By Jan Oberg
On World Communications Day, January 24, 2018 – Pope Francis sent out a message that should have created headlines everywhere. It advocated a journalism for peace.
The discussion of fake news has spread around the globe and there are all kinds of proposals on how to detect fake news and combat it – as the truly civilizational threat it is. Indeed one could day that fake is the debate 2017-2018.
A quick DuckDuckGo search – no, I don’t use Google Search anymore because of its tracking and blatant censorship – reveals that a few leading US media took up the story, so did a series of religious media, of course, but the amazing statement didn’t obtain much attention.
Objectively speaking, that is particularly strange since any editor and journalist should be professionally observant of a statement on their own profession from the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics.
But what can surprise you anymore about the media? Most like, it wasn’t covered because Pope Francis ends up advocating a journalism for truth and peace. Dangerous!
He maintains that fake news was introduced by the serpent in the Garden of Eden. That fake news – and omissions – is always done with destructive intent and that education is an essential remedy. That may not be so revolutionary but then listen.
Here is what Pope Francis says at the very end:
“I would like, then, to invite everyone to promote a journalism of peace. By that, I do not mean the saccharine kind of journalism that refuses to acknowledge the existence of serious problems or smacks of sentimentalism. On the contrary, I mean a journalism that is truthful and opposed to falsehoods, rhetorical slogans, and sensational headlines. A journalism created by people for people, one that is at the service of all, especially those – and they are the majority in our world – who have no voice. A journalism less concentrated on breaking news than on exploring the underlying causes of conflicts, in order to promote deeper understanding and contribute to their resolution by setting in place virtuous processes. A journalism committed to pointing out alternatives to the escalation of shouting matches and verbal violence.”
This is almost verbatim out of peace research articles and textbooks on peace joournalism like those of TFF Associates Johan Galtung, Annabel McGoldrick and Jake Lynch.
He does not make the – naive – claim that media ought to promote peace as such. He says that they should not get obsessed with violence but look at underlying conflicts. So true.
He does not fall into the trap that journalism should ignore the harsh realities of the world. No, he says that good journalism is for all of us, serving the people, particularly those whose voices are seldom heard. The victims. Not self-confirmations suiting elites serve as legitimizing more violence.
He maintains that it is not about being fast but being truthful and look at world events from many perspectives.
I strongly recommend that you read the whole statement by Pope Francis. Refer to it everywhere also even if – like myself – you are not a Catholic or even religious.
The world desperately needs moral and thought leaders with their feet on the ground. Francis is one of them and they are few in today’s world.
It’s wonderful that there is an ethical world leader who – repeatedly – says important things and catches us as humans with his own humanity. And that he does so with a marvelous combination of scholarly based knowledge and spontaneity and, frequently, with a smile.
Sad it surely is, however, that Pope Francis – like so many others working for peace – seems to be ignored by the far majority of the world’s media that thrives on wars and violence and even, through fake news, perspectives and militarist editorials, do their utmost to help justify the introduction of even more violence into our world.