By DARRELL DAVIS
Mike Binkley, a television news anchor for local CBS affiliate WCCO, was the guest speaker at the communications department chapel on Feb. 18.
After speaking of his journey to faith, Binkley explained the importance of being a Christian voice in the news media and that diversity in the newsroom should include race, gender and people of faith. He gave examples of how he has influenced his workplace, such as informing assignment editors of significant Christian events and editing portions of the news script that may be offensive to Christians.
“We are a society made up of several different viewpoints, lifestyles and beliefs, and the news media can be influential, so we [Christian journalists] should be in on the discussion.”
Binkley has been able to pitch significant news items that may have gone unnoticed, such as churches sending members to watch The Passion of the Christ or 100,000 people flocking to the state capital to hear preacher Luis Palau.
Binkley said he also works with words that are written for him in news scripts.
“There have been times that a producer has written a line for me that really seems to be offensive to me, like taking a shot at all Christians in general. When I bring it to their attention, I’ve found that its usually just a misunderstanding – from their worldview perspective, they didn’t realize that what they wrote would be offensive.”
In addition to affecting the news his station produces, Binkley said he has been able to speak to coworkers on a personal level.
“I had three different people stop me and say, ‘So I hear you’re a Christian.’ And they wanted to talk about it because they wanted to explore issues of faith that they were battling and grappling with.”
But Binkley stated that integrating his faith with his work was not always a priority. While he was raised in a churchgoing family, he was not active in his faith during the first 15 to 20 years of his career.
By the 1990s, Binkley was a weekend anchor at another television station and had achieved some measure of fame. He married a wealthy heiress, but after a year hit the lowest point of his life when the marriage fell apart.
“It really caused me to step back and look at what a mess I had made of my life, when I had put myself, money, status and fame at the front of every decision that I was making in my life.”
After committing his life to Christ, Binkley began to look at his job differently and became concerned with the atmosphere and some of the stories being put on the air. He described a conversation with his pastor in which he expressed doubt that he had chosen the right profession and wondered if he should quit.
“I’ll never forget what he told me. He said, ‘You can’t quit. This business needs more people like you.’ ”
Addressing the students in attendance, Binkley offered the same advice.
“And that’s what I want to tell you today – this business needs more people like you.”