By: Joy Odor/Kaduna
His Holiness, Pope Francis has called on all the journalists in the world to promote journalism of peace that is truthful, that will bond people together, bring peace and communion rather than the Yellow and sentimental journalism.
According to him, the best antidotes to fake news is not strategies, but people who are not greedy but ready to listen, people who make effort to engage in sincere dialogue so that the truth can emerge and people who are attracted by goodness and take responsibility for how they use language.
Pope Francis made the affirmation in his 2018 message to commemorate the World Communication Day (WCD) with the Theme: “The Truth Will Set You Free” (John 8:32): ‘Fake News and Journalism for Peace’ which was read by the Catholic Archbishop of Kaduna, His Grace, Most Reverend Dr. Matthew Man-Oso Ndagoso in his homily at Saint Augustine Parish, Mahuta on Sunday.
He pointed out that with today’s fast-changing world of communications and digital systems, the world is witnessing the spread of what has come to be known as fake news and called for reflection, saying ensuring the accuracy of sources and protecting communication are real means of promoting goodness, generating trust, and opening the way to communion and peace.
He therefore advised all journalists to promote a journalism of peace that is truthful, opposed to falsehoods, rhetorical slogans, and sensational headlines.
“I enjoined you to do a journalism less concentrated on breaking news than on exploring the underlying causes of conflicts, a journalism created by people for people who have no voice, in order to promote deeper understanding and contribute to their resolution by setting in place virtuous processes.
“Journalism committed to pointing out alternatives to the escalation of shouting matches and verbal violence than the kind that refuses to acknowledge the existence of serious problems or smacks of sentimentalism.
“The best antidotes to falsehoods are not strategies, but people: people who are not greedy but ready to listen, people who make the effort to engage in sincere dialogue so that the truth can emerge; people who are attracted by goodness and take responsibility for how they use language.
“If responsibility is the answer to the spread of fake news, then a weighty responsibility rests on the shoulders of those whose job is to provide information, namely, journalists and the protectors of news.
“They must remember that the heart of information is not the speed with which it is reported or its audience impact, but persons. “That is why ensuring the accuracy of sources and protecting communication are real means of promoting goodness, generating trust, and opening the way to communion and peace” he said.
Contributing to His Holiness message, Archbishop of Kaduna, His Grace, Most Reverend Dr. Matthew Man-Oso Ndagoso called on all the journalists who make a living out of writing to ensure that what they write, promote, say or do should promote peace and human dignity rather than cause disunity.
According to him, journalists work is not just a Job but a mission because they can unity a world or divide the world, they can bring about peace or cause war through the print and electronic media.
Archbishop Man-Oso Ndagoso continue to emphasis that the journalists duty is to form, inform and bring about communion and unite people in the world, saying there is no such thing as harmless disinformation, every disinformation, every lie and every untruth is harmful.
“I invite our journalists to listen very carefully to the message the Holy Father, Pope Francis have for them, not only to catholic or Christian journalist working in different media houses but to all journalists who are engaged in disseminating information in forming, education and entertaining.
As a matter of fact, you the journalists whose duty is to form, inform and bring about communion and unite people in the world. If the journalist is to tell the truth, there is a way the truth will be told to bring about unity. The truth can actually instead of bringing about unity will cause trouble.
“There is no such thing as harmless disinformation, every disinformation, every lie, every untruth is harmful. Even a seemingly slit distortion of truth can have dangerous effect. A lie is always a lie no matter how small the lie is” He ended.
In his welcome address, the Director of Social Communications, Catholic Archdiocese of Kaduna, Reverend Father Anthony Okelue observed that Nigeria is in dire need of peace and as catholic communicators, they would ensure they used the World Communication Day as a springboard to stand for peace.
“Communication involves both human beings and equipment of social interaction and network which calls for sensitivity in their use and the process of interaction among people.
“Social interaction among people through information disseminating and feedback mechanism can enhance development of people as well possessing the power to cause collapse of the society” he said.
In his remark, the Archdiocesan Commission for Engagement in Social Communications and Parish Priest of Saint Augustine Parish Mahuta, Reverend Father Isaac Patrick Musa agreed that the choice of the Theme of the Day is apt to the happenings in the world today.
He was of the opinion that the media for social communications approach event and situation differently and disseminate information with different motives by injecting a lot of biases which are emanating from political, religion, traditional and cultural views with the craving to project false images or propaganda.
Reverend Father Musa however explained that communications should be directed towards attaining its goals such as fellowship, expression and sharing information for peaceful co-existence in the world.
“We are happy that the Commission is on her toes to key into the campaign started by His Holiness to expose and oppose Fake News were more enlightenment and sensitization on the proper way of communications will be done to the members of Commission.
“We really need to communicate the abundance of information around us in a proper way to create harmony not sensitivity ad tension which can trigger disharmony” he added.