Famous pastors and celebrities 'credible'

It’s time to rethink where we get our news

In the age of “fake news” and scepticism about mainstream news sources, six per cent of Americans told a Barna study that “a famous pastor” or “a celebrity” is a credible news source.

It sounds like a small percentage, but at Eternity we were surprised to see either category on the list at all. It raises the question: where should we be getting our news.

Despite the media consistently being called into question by US President Donald Trump, 39 per cent of Americans still said reporters are the most “credible news source”. However, this is closely followed by the self, with 32 per cent saying they don’t trust anybody but their own “instincts” when it comes to determining the credibility of news.

32 per cent say they don’t trust anybody but their own “instincts”.

According to Barna, the next most popular response was friends, family members or peers, at 27 per cent, “revealing a propensity to turn inward or to one’s tribe for truth when outside authorities are no longer seen as reliable.”

“A pastor I personally know” came in at 14 per cent, below famous academics (22 per cent) and just higher than “a teacher I personally know” (12 per cent).

Yet, Barna researchers say “Christianity’s influence is waning” as they forecast trends for 2018. Barna reports that only a third of Americans (36 per cent) strongly believe churches “have their best interest at heart” and one in four (25 per cent) say “they don’t put stock in [a] pastor’s insights on the issues of the day.”

Barna researchers say “Christianity’s influence is waning”.

“The good news: most people don’t dislike pastors. The bad news: they just don’t really care about pastors either,” reads another recent Barna research paper.

That’s fine for America, I hear you say, but why do I care, here in the southern hemisphere?

According to Pew, another US-based research group, two-thirds (67 per cent) of Americans report that they get at least some of their news on social media. And this week, Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg announced a major shake-up of how the social media giant will be sorting your news feeds from now on.

“You can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups.” – Mark Zuckerberg

“I’m changing the goal … from focusing on helping you find relevant content to helping you have more meaningful social interactions,” Zuckerberg posted on Facebook.

“The first changes you’ll see will be in News Feed, where you can expect to see more from your friends, family and groups … As we roll this out, you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands and media.”

Facebook’s “Head of News Feed” Adam Mosseri offered further illumination on what that means for your news feed – no matter where you are in the world. Mosseri suggested priority would be given to those who post live videos (which many famous pastors do regularly), and to celebrities whose Facebook posts generate a lot of discussion.

Here at Eternity, we are not sure exactly what this means for the future of news. But we think every day is a good day to be thinking: “Where am I getting my news?”