Three new lessons for the media…

Pope Francis meets with Italy's national council of journalists at the Vatican's Clementine Hall

Three new lessons for the media…

By Fr. Rif’at Bader

In his address, days ago, to members of the Italian National Council of the Order of Journalists, Pope Francis lauded the effort exerted by journalists. He also drew attention to the wonderful technological achievements that have been attained in this regard. He also said that the writer or rather the journalist is the one who draws a links between two eras, namely the era of the traditional press--which involves television and printed papers-- and the impressive digital media, since the writers are the ones who have been presenting media reports over the years.

The Pope forwarded to the journalists three novel points to be emulated. Why do we say three new points? It is because he had earlier presented his renowned points, namely truth, goodness and beauty. Today, he presented three new notions, namely to love the truth, to live with professionalism, and to respect human dignity.

As for loving the truth, he said to love the truth does not only mean to affirm it but to live it, to witness it with one’s work — to live and work, therefore, with coherence in regard to the words that one uses for a newspaper article or a television service. The question here is not to be or not be a believer. The question here is to be or not to be “honest” with oneself and with others.

As regards living with professionalism, it means first of all – beyond what we can find written in deontological codes – to understand, to interiorize the profound meaning of one’s work. From here stems the need not to subject one’s profession to the logics of partisan interests, whether economic or political. A task of journalism, or rather its vocation is “to have man’s social dimension grow, to foster the building of true citizenship.”

In the case of respect for human dignity, “it is not possible to be easy with it as it transcends all technologies bearing in mind that people have sentiments and emotions, which serve as the basis in the field of media.” Journalism cannot become a “weapon of destruction” of persons and even of peoples. Nor must it fuel fear in face of the changes and phenomena such as migrations forced by war and famine.

Therefore, the new three points presented to media people are handy. Let us consider them and learn from them. There are in our daily work in the field of media huge challenges and risks foremost of which is looking for “scoops” and fast dissemination of news items which also involve failure to respect human dignity, to love the truth, and to handle news items with high professionalism that does not follow the whims of those with political and social clout.

Locally, several issues have surfaced where our journalists did a good job in covering them, yet electronic social reactions became a matter of global concern, due to the fact that our discussions, which are sometimes ebullient, include terms that are unfamiliar in our society. They are viewed as addressing hatred and animosity as they lack focusing on the “beauty” of our homeland, its security and stability, as we are in the midst of conflagrated environs.

We welcome telling the truth, having sublime media professionalism, and respecting human dignity. We also share Pope’s words which state that: “Journalism is an instrument of construction, a factor of common goodness, an accelerator of processes of reconciliation, which is able to reject the temptation to foment clashes, with a language that blows on the fire of divisions, and, instead, that it foster the culture of encounter.”

We do hope so.

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