There are arguably two forces that may be destroying the ethics of journalism today. The first is the competition for rankings and advertising that drives the obsession to report something “first” in a 24-hour news cycle. The second is that social media exacerbates the first. These two forces make journalists vulnerable to poor, unethical reporting. We are seeing this play out in what could easily be considered unethical coverage of the tragedy in Boston by CNN and other news platforms.
Nobody can know everything about everything, but in the age of the internet, fact-checking isn’t too tough. It’s one thing for a high-school student to attempt to slide by on “facts” in a research paper for sophomore social studies, but another when professional journalists make errors about easily investigated pieces of knowledge.
Lately, the media has been getting blasted for getting the facts wrong about religion. Carl M. Cannon:
The upshot during Holy Week this year was a spate of news reports so inaccurate and off-key that they comprised a kind of impromptu “Gong Show.” (more…)
Every day we hear about contemporary, serious concepts (e.g., chained CPI) and new, silly fads (Vadering), but in the modern age it’s not always easy to tell which category a new idea falls into. Take, for instance, Bitcoin. As Jordan Ballor wrote yesterday,
My initial skepticism is in part due to my lack of familiarity with the details of the currency and its formation. I certainly need to learn more.
Many of us are in the same situation as Jordan. We recognize that Bitcoin is a significant phenomenon but need to become more familiar in order to develop an informed opinion and be able to “think Christianly” about it’s value and implications. While Bitcoin is not a topic every Christian should know something about (at least not yet), it does overlap with many subject areas of particular interest for Acton PowerBlog readers: business, technology, regulation, ethics, etc. For that reason, I thought it might be helpful to write a series on Bitcoin for Christians.
Over a series of three posts I’ll provide some background information on Bitcoin, explain how it works, and consider some of the reasons why Christians need to develop an informed opinion about the cryptocurrency. The purpose of these posts is not to tell you what to think about Bitcoin (though I have begun to form my own opinion) but merely to provide information that will help you to develop an informed opinion of your own.
We should start with the question “What is Bitcoin?” but before we can answer that we need to consider a more fundamental question, “What is money?” And that question brings us to the story of the rai of Yap.
What Yap Can Teach Us About Bitcoin
On October 5, 2011, Acton welcomed John Blundell, Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Institute of Economic Affairs, to deliver a lecture as part of the 2011 Acton Lecture Series. His address was entitled “Lessons from Margaret Thatcher,” and provided insight into the Iron Lady from a man who had known Thatcher well before she became the Prime Minister of Great Britain. You can watch his lecture below.
Lady Margaret Thatcher has passed away from an apparent stroke at the age of 87. Here are nine things you should know about the former British Prime Minister.
1. Thatcher was not only the first—and only—woman to become British prime minister, she was the first to win three elections in a row. When she retired as a Prime Minister she was given the title of Baroness and joined the House of Lords.
2. Thatcher graduated from Oxford University in 1947 with a B.S. in Chemistry (specializing in X-ray crystallography), and worked as a research chemist before becoming involved in politics.
3. Thatcher helped develop soft-serve ice cream.
4. In 1970 Margaret Thatcher became Secretary of State for Education. In the post she stopped free milk for schoolchildren earning her the nickname ‘Thatcher, the Milk Snatcher.’
5. After a speech in 1976 in which she condemned Communism, a Soviet journalist dubbed her ‘The Iron Lady.’ She is said to have liked the nickname.
6. From 1993 to 2000, Thatcher served as chancellor of the College of William and Mary, in Williamsburg, Virginia.
7. On October 12, 1984, Thatcher narrowly escaped an IRA bombing assassination attempt at a Brighton hotel, in which five others were killed.
8. Ronald Reagan called her the “best man in England” and she called him “the second most important man in my life.”
9. Thatcher was brought up as a devout Methodist and remained a Christian throughout her life.
As has been mentioned today on the PowerBlog, Margaret Thatcher was a recipient of Acton’s Faith and Freedom Award in 2011. Due to her declining health, she was unable to accept the award in person. Accepting the award in her place was John O’Sullivan, the Executive Editor of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and former senior aide in the Thatcher government. The comments of O’Sullivan on Margaret Thatcher, her government and her character are below.
In these posts, I was relating a personal experience I had in meeting then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio some 12 years ago at the University of Dallas Rome Campus. This I have now verified as incorrect.
I had actually met a different Argentine Cardinal who came to speak at the Dallas Rome campus with the exact same first and similar second name –Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia. Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia is also from Buenos Aires, served as archbishop (curial) and was elevated to cardinal during the same February 2001 conclave as Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Both are also apparently close friends and very similar in humble disposition.
Cardinal Jorge Maria Mejia is the archivist and librarian emeritus of the Vatican Secret Archives, but earlier served as Secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops. He is a former Vatican colleague and was a guest of the university’s chaplain on the reported occasion.
I regret the error.
In a world apparently dominated by Christian footwear, a Berlin-based company has come to the rescue of atheists. Atheist Shoes boast a line of footwear that proudly announces the wearer’s lack of faith. The soles of the shoes (not to be confused with “souls”, mind you) state “Ich bin Atheist” (“I am an atheist”). The company thinks the world needed a “nice, understated way for people to profess their godlessness”, and the founders of the company wanted to help atheists proclaim their unbelief, especially in a world hostile to non-believers (despite the fact that Christians are now among the most persecuted people on the planet right now.)
We’re lucky to live in Berlin, a city where roughly two thirds of the population are atheists, but we’re conscious there are still places where it’s difficult to be godless.
In case you missed it when it came out, I thought it’d be worth posting a reminder that the Acton Institute recently partnered with the Christian History Institute to produce an issue of Christian History magazine. The issue (which you can download as a free PDF) examines the impact of automation on Europe and America and the varying responses of the church to the problems that developed. Topics examined are mission work, the rise of the Social Gospel, the impact of papal pronouncements, the Methodist phenomenon, Christian capitalists, attempts at communal living and much more.
Check out these feature articles:
Martin Luther King, Jr. has to be turning over in his grave. Just when you think America may be on the path to no longer judging people on the basis of skin color, we run into nonsense like the decision last fall by the Florida Department of Education, to institute race-based education standards. According to CBS News in Tampa, the Florida Department of Education,
passed a revised strategic plan that says that by 2018, it wants 90 percent of Asian students, 88 percent of white students, 81 percent of Hispanics and 74 percent of black students to be reading at or above grade level. For math, the goals are 92 percent of Asian kids to be proficient, whites at 86 percent, Hispanics at 80 percent and blacks at 74 percent. It also measures by other groupings, such as poverty and disabilities.
This plan seems to be the exact opposite of what Dr. King died for back in 1968. What the plan clearly communicates is the soft bigotry of low expectations. In light of the logical backlash against the race-based proposal, there have been some attempts to defend the new Florida policy as something other than what it clearly is. For example, Alex Yahanda, senior associate editor for The Cavalier Daily, attempted to spin the proposal this way: