A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to write a brief review of Media, Journalism, and Communication: A Student’s Guide by Dr. Read M. Schuchardt for the LifeWay Pastors blog.
I decided it would be good to run the review here as well as the readers here may be interested in the book. I HIGHLY recommend it. This book, despite it’s title, is definitely not just for students.
In his endorsement statement about this book, Mark Galli, Editor in Chief of Christianity Today, says, “Read Schuchardt is in the business of telling fish about the water they swim in.” This statement is the best way I know how to summarize this book in a simple sentence. In Media, Journalism, and Communication: A Student’s Guide, Dr. Schuchardt helps his readers better understand what makes up the communications ecosystem in which we presently live.
Don’t let the title scare you off. This book is not as much about media and journalism as it is about communication, and the idea that it is a “student’s guide” is only true inasmuch as we should all be students of the culture in which we live. One would be concerned, based on the title, that this book may simply contain an overview of the communications discipline presented in such a way that a college student might better understand it. The book certainly does this, but it does much more than that.
Media, Journalism, and Communication: A Student’s Guide is ultimately about helping Christians better understand how to navigate our present digital age. I work in social media for a living, so I was naturally skeptical as soon as I began reading. But when I realized that Dr. Schuchardt would be taking a Neil Postman approach to his explanation on our present digital age, I simply sat back and absorbed everything I could.
The outline of the book is pretty simple. Dr. Schuchardt explains why we should care to learn about communication in our present age. He explains how social media is affecting our ability to communicate effectively. He pushes us toward a Christian identity that crowds out a digital one. And finally he examines the reality that we are being lied to, and he convicts the reader to decide what to do about that.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
As mentioned above, I work in social media for a living. So, when I sat down with this book a number of weeks ago—knowing nothing about the author—I prepared for an old, tired “Social media is ruining everything because technology is evil,” sort of Christian-perspective analysis. Instead, what I got when I read this book was a thorough Postman-esque explanation of how Christians should control, not be controlled by, our means of communication. I also got a hand cramp from writing “AMEN!” too much in the margins.
The reason I had low expectations for this book is the reason I think everyone should read this book. I had low expectations for this book because Christian perspectives on digital communication technologies and trends are, in my experience, often driven by ignorant fear rather than courageous, educated approaches. Thus, we fail to understand the intersection of our modern communication and the Christian faith.
I came away from this book with a renewed desire to evaluate my own relationship with modern digital communication tools, even as I make a living helping Christians better understand and use them. This is not to say I did not disagree with Dr. Schuchardt at times—I certainly did—but my disagreement was of a personal nature, not necessarily a “factual” one.