Thinking Out Loud

February 10, 2011

Being the Go-To Guy for Opinion and Information

An old friend of ours is frequently called upon by a Christian television show to offer his opinions on the major story of the day or general trends.  He’s one of a number of “go-to” people they use when they want to gather additional commentary on a given topic. He’s knowledgeable about many things, and I don’t at all question their judgment in using him.

When I worked briefly in campus media — newspaper and radio — at Canada’s largest university, we would receive a phone book of sorts titled Sources; a listing of people in business, finance, academia, education, entertainment, sports, politics, world affairs, etc. who were considered experts in their field.  The book allowed writers and broadcasters to get past the screening processes and be in contact with these people quickly.  A good journalist has his or her own contacts as well.

It’s always nice to be asked your opinion.  It’s self-gratifying perhaps, but always good for self-esteem to hear someone say, “What do you think about this situation?”  Recently, “Canada’s most-listened to spiritual talkback program” as it is known, cut back it’s actual time allotted to talkback.  I think it’s unfortunate when fewer and fewer voices get to be heard.  Or when only a few people get the morning call from the Christian television producer to prepare a soundbite for the morning broadcast on a fast-developing story.

But we all can’t be experts on everything.  For the past three weeks I’ve followed the uprising in Tunisia and the subsequent protests in Egypt without writing a word about them here. I think I understand the basic issues enough to explain it to my kids, but that’s where I draw the line at jumping in on that one.

You see, I went to an experimental high school in Toronto.  We were among the first to get “unstructured modules” or “spares” in the middle of the day.  Also, we were allowed to drop history if we took geography, which means that I’ve never taken high school history (nor political science) and my middle school history classes were taught by a former hippie whose teaching of the subject consisted of playing the banjo (seriously!) and spinning tales that often sounded more like fiction than fact.  He wasn’t big on students taking notes either, so in those three years of junior high, my cumulative notes would barely fill a single notebook.  So I tend to shy away from topics related to history, political science or macro-economics.

It’s important to know what you’re an expert on and where you’re out of your depth.  Yet we know people who feel they have to have a take on everything and at least one Minneapolis pastor who I sometimes feel is placed in a spotlight where he has to have an opinion on every issue passing by.

Locally, I’ve worked in inter-denominational ministry for 16 years now in a somewhat higher profile position, but not once have the local newspapers contacted me when a local religious news story is breaking.  It would be nice, just once, to be a source.  I can’t do Egypt.  I can do topics of interest to the faith community.

But you, too can be a source.  There’s always blogging.  As I approach the three-year anniversary of this project in a few days, I am reminded that I’ve always felt I got into this too late. That for someone who has always been a prolific writer, building a platform might have come easier if I’d started earlier.

But then yesterday I spoke with a professional writer who has just started one.  And honestly, I don’t think it’s ever too late.  This one succeeded partly because it wasn’t about my issues or local issues.  The first time a comment came in from Europe or Australia, I knew that I was being followed by a much larger audience than I imagined, and I responded by writing in a way that would make this blog world-friendly.

However, if you read the stats on Christian Blog Topsites (the first of the aggregator ‘buttons’ in the sidebar) you know that all of us in the upper tier play second fiddle to a woman who simply writes about “raising four kids under five.”  So you don’t have to take on the world in order to reach the world with your writing.

And if you’ve already made that leap, today’s comment section is available for you to promote your writing.  Who knows?  You might even turn up as a Wednesday link at some point in the future.

If you care about your world and can express opinions cleary, You are a source. And your opinion is worthy of an audience.


  1. I’m a source!

    Read all the news I could gather from the net about an unreached people group – nomadic camel herders in Egypt, Sudan and Eritrea.

    Comment by Brian — February 11, 2011 @ 2:08 am


    Comment by Brian — February 11, 2011 @ 2:12 am

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