International journalist David Blevins discusses once-divided Ireland and the media’s role in finding a resolution

Sky News correspondent David Blevins visited APU to speak on the historical division between Protestants and Catholics in Ireland, as well as his own experience in maintaining Christian faith in a secular workplace, on Tuesday, Sept. 27. Blevins spent a total of 12 days traveling to schools all over the U.S. to give this lecture.

Blevins, a journalist of 27 years, spent time working in newspaper, radio, and multimedia. He considers himself a multimedia journalist who believes that professionals don’t have to ignore their hearts to be objective.

In his experience, he said that ordinary people have had the longest lasting impression on him. While Blevins spent much of his lecture discussing the 30-year conflict in Northern Ireland between Protestants and Catholics, he also allowed time to discuss faith and how one can bring it into the workplace.

He separated his lecture into three themes: hope, history and rhyme.

Blevins shared that between the years of 1968 and 1998, approximately 3,600 lives were lost due to the religious dispute. The conflict was seen as a freedom attempt for the Irish Republicans, but as an act of terrorism for the British Unionists, which resulted in a large loss of life.

While discussing the hope of Ireland, Blevins explained that a ceasefire followed the dispute, and in the 1970s, Ireland had their own civil rights movement.

Blevins then shared his own professional journey. Comparing himself to the prophet Samuel, he reflected on a time when God would not stop calling him until he answered. After realizing that it was God calling him to something else at this stage in his career, Blevins left Sky News in 2006 to attend seminary and study theology. Upon his return to Sky News in 2014, Ireland had become more secular, and Blevins explained that describing oneself as a “Christian journalist” had become uncommon.

“We need reporters who get religion,” Blevins said. “Journalism was my history, theology was my hope and journalism that gets religion is my rhyme.”

Blevins said he returned to Sky News because he realized that it was unnecessary to separate his faith from his journalism career.

“Blevins said that ‘It’s not my job to convert my audience,’” junior journalism major Ciera Cypert said. “To hear that was so freeing because you put this pressure on yourself as a Christian to speak the name of Jesus wherever you go and in whatever you do. I think specifically in our field of journalism, the way we can reflect Jesus is by being truthful and showing integrity.”

When Blevins left Sky News in 2006, he left to fulfill the calling that the Lord had on his life. He said he now understands that listening to God’s calling is important in furthering His kingdom, and Christians can be of use to that in the professional world.

“Whatever your calling is, I believe you can be of use to God there,” Blevins said. “It’s important that you recognize that your role there is to do your job well. Your priority is not to evangelize—that just may be a bonus.”

As Blevins said, evangelizing with words is not the goal, but rather evangelizing with actions and being an example to those in the workplace.

“Do a job with excellence, not meaning that you’re perfect, and not even necessarily that you’re better than your colleagues, but you do it with a sense of pride and with your ethics intact, and not making compromises,” journalism professor Jessica Sherer said.

Journalists are oftentimes required to write stories about controversial or sensitive subjects, and Sherer said it is important to find a balance between sensitivity and objectivity in reporting.

“You don’t need to set aside your humanity in order to be objective…You still want to be a human being,” Sherer said. “But as soon as you lose your objectivity, there’s no guarantee that people will receive that information in the way they were supposed to. Now all of a sudden you could actually be undermining the Lord’s work.”

According to Blevins’ lecture, authenticity is not possible if one is not being sensitive in working toward objectivity.

“I don’t believe that you have to switch off your mind and your heart to be objective,” he said. “If you’re turning them off, then you’re not being authentic.”

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