In a message from the Vatican for World Communications Day, Pope Francis urged news organizations to change the lens through which they view “reality” and to move beyond reporting only “bad news” and instead to concentrate on solutions.
Saying he was not suggesting spreading misinformation that would ignore actual human suffering, nor “naïve optimism blind to the scandal of evil,” the Pontiff said, “I am convinced that we have to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear resulting from a constant focus on ‘bad news’ (wars, terrorism, scandals and all sorts of human failure).”
The address was delivered January 24, feast day of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of writers, journalists and the Catholic press, for the upcoming 51st annual World Communications Day May 28.
The Pope cautioned against allowing consciences to be “dulled or slip into pessimism” by “a communications industry which thinks that good news does not sell, and where the tragedy of human suffering and the mystery of evil easily turn into entertainment.”
“I am convinced that we have to break the vicious circle of anxiety and stem the spiral of fear resulting from a constant focus on ‘bad news’ (wars, terrorism, scandals and all sorts of human failure).”
“I would like to encourage everyone to engage in constructive forms of communication that reject prejudice towards others and foster a culture of encounter, helping all of us to view the world around us with realism and trust,” the Pontiff said.
Offering an alternative to traditional bad-news reporting, Pope Francis offered, “I would like, then, to contribute to the search for an open and creative style of communication that never seeks to glamorize evil but instead to concentrate on solutions and to inspire a positive and responsible approach on the part of its recipients. I ask everyone to offer the people of our time story lines that are at heart ‘good news.’”
Read the full text of the Pope’s address.
For more on media ethics, read Charter on Journalistic Ethics in Relation to Respect for Religion or Belief published by Church of Scientology International.