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  • Cathy Sweeney

What’s Black and White and Red All Over?

I loved this joke when I was a child.  “What’s Black and White and Red All Over?”  The answer, of course, varied:  a sunburned zebra, an embarrassed penguin.

red zebra

The classic answer?  A Newspaper, which is my thought for the day.

The decline of print newspaper notwithstanding, many of us rely on some form of written communication for distribution of news.  My morning routine is fairly consistent, with time each day devoted to reading headlines from certain periodicals or digital newspapers.    I’ve had a hard time finding a balanced view from any one newspaper, so I end up reading headlines and OpEd sections from a few sources.  Recently, I forwarded a link for an article from the New York Times to a friend of mine.  Rather than reading the article for any accuracy or thought provoking comments or even for humor, the response was “What are you doing reading a liberal newspaper?”  Thankfully, I knew him well enough to know he was joking.

But his comment got me thinking.  How DO most people receive news?  IS there an independent and unbiased source out there?  Doing some research, I learned about a 2005 article in The Quarterly Journal of Economics, where Tim Groseclose and Professor Jeff Milyo created what is referred to as the “slant scale” of media bias.  Based on this method, and on a scale of conservative 1 to a liberal 100, we learn that a true ‘centrist’ position would calculate to be 50.6.

So it wasn’t surprising to me to learn of some of the results of the research:  LA Times:  70.0; New York Times:  73.7; Washington Post 66.6; Washington Times 35.4.  Even today, when answering a general question asking which newspapers are conservative and which are liberal, two pop into mind quickly:  The New York Times (liberal) and The Wall Street Journal (conservative).


Now, let me say this:  I acknowledge that there is bias everywhere.  That’s unavoidable.  Bias is supposed to come out in the OpEd sections of newspapers, not in the fact based news.  That isn’t always the case.  And because of that, my morning routine includes reading headlines from BOTH of these papers.  Time consuming?  Sure.  Worth the time to get perspectives I may not have considered?  Absolutely.

The details matter.  Taking the details and thinking on them, forming an opinion that reconciles with what I know about God’s love – that is the start of wisdom.  I may never get there, entirely; but reading different perspectives helps me see the big picture.  As we hear in Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.

The lesson here?  Don’t just repeat what you read.  Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about  these things.  (Phil 4:8)  The God of love will guide you in all that you do….and read.

In all things, Love,



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