Below is the text of Bishop Fisher’s exhortation given today at the Blessing of Journalists at Christ Church Cathedral.
Henry Luce wrote “I became a journalist to come as close as possible to the heart of the world.” That sounds like a calling of religious magnitude.
I have been asked “why a blessing of journalists?” Well that goes to the nature of blessing. Blessing is both an appreciation and a commitment.
Those blessed “are” a blessing. You are a blessing to our democracy and essential to our common life. As Thomas Jefferson said:
“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost. Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the later.”
In our own time, Senator John McCain:
“If you want to preserve democracy as we know it, you have to have a free AND many times adversarial press. And without it, I am afraid we would lose much of our individual liberties overtime.”
You are a blessing because you tell the stories of the poor, the abused, the underrepresented, and the oppressed. These are the people that Jesus and the Prophets raised up. And you do too. Thank you for telling the stories of Dreamers. Thank you for giving voice to those teenagers in Parkland Florida who demanding changes to our grossly inadequate gun laws. I am grateful to you for giving voice to the earth, which is so vulnerable to climate change. This is holy work. Thank you for speaking truth to power.
You are a blessing because you help build community. From small town newspapers to big city daily papers to radio and television and news streams on the Internet, you have the power to gather people in ways small and large. Churches do that but it does not need to be a church service that brings people out of isolation into community.
And you are a blessing because you are an inspiration. I was in high school during the Watergate years and several of my classmates went into journalism because they were inspired by the journalists of that time. Many have compared this era to Watergate. Right now young people are watching you and wondering if they too are called.
Blessing is an appreciation and it is also a commitment. It is not another “our prayers and thoughts are with you.” Prayer is a prelude to action.
One of those aforementioned high school friends of mine who went into journalism wrote this to me: “We all need blessings in this time when curiosity about others, truth and compassion are under daily assault.”
My own Communications Director, Vicki Ix, who is in frequent communication with many of you, thinks of this time like the days of Noah. “It feels to me as if a storm is coming and we are building an ark. People of faith and journalists share fundamental values that may be critical in the days ahead.”
Journalists, you are a blessing. And people of faith bless you with our commitment, because the one we follow said “The truth will set you free.” And with you, we want to come “as close as possible to the heart of the world.” Amen.