Rome (Italy). The text of the message of Pope Francis for the 52nd World Day for Social Communications was published on January 24, 2018. The theme is: “The truth will make you free” (John 8: 32). Fake News and Journalism for Peace.
The Pope points a finger at “fake news”, false and groundless news “based on non-existent or distorted data and aimed at deceiving and even manipulating the reader”, news that leads to an instrumental distortion of the facts and contributes to create disinformation. “The drama of disinformation is the discrediting of the other, his representation as an enemy, to the point of demonization that can foment conflicts”.
Faced with the spread of disinformation, Pope Francis proposes a model of journalism that points to the truth. “Communication – he writes – becomes a place to express one’s responsibility in the search for truth and in the construction of good. The journalist, protector of the news, is particularly involved. Theirs is not only a job, but a real mission. They have the task to remember that the center of the news is not the speed in giving it and the impact on the audience, but the people. For this reason, the accuracy of the sources and the safeguarding of communication are real processes for the pursuit of goodness, which generate trust, and open paths for communion and peace “.
“To promote a journalism for peace, not meaning with this expression a ‘saccharin’ journalism, which denies the existence of serious problems and smacks of sentimentalism. But journalism hostile to falsehoods, to rhetorical slogans, and sensational headlines; a journalism that is understood as a service to all people, especially those who have no voice; a journalism committed to show alternative solutions to the escalation of shouting matches and verbal violence “.
This is the heart of the message that stimulates us to explore the paths of truth, to overcome the logic of often misleading information and to reclaim our humanity. False news and journalism for peace is an appeal to undermine the logic of the bad news that often directs opinions and actions towards horizons of conflict and denial of the dignity of the person.
With this message, the Pope urges us to be the first media to affirm the human categories that make us free and responsible women and men. “Truth is not really earned when it is imposed as something extrinsic and impersonal; it flows instead from free relations among people, in mutual listening “.
Liberation from falsehood and the search for a relationships are “the two ingredients that cannot be missing so that our words and our gestures are true, authentic, reliable. To discern the truth, it is necessary to examine what accompanies communion and promotes goodness and what, on the contrary, tends to isolate, divide, and oppose “.
As educating communities we are called to educate ourselves and to educate to communicate well. Indeed, telling the truth is possible even in the era of fake news.
The World Day of Social Communications is the only world day established by Vatican Council II (“Inter Mirifica”, 1963). It is celebrated in many countries on the recommendation of the Bishops of the world, on the Sunday that precedes Pentecost. In 2018, this is on May 13.