Spain

"To limit the exercise of journalism is to limit the exercise of freedom."

The bishops wanted to remember reporters who "have given their lives" in fulfilling their mission, noting that "they gave their lives for our freedom" in their message on the occasion of World Communications Day.

Maria José Atienza-May 11, 2021-Reading time: 5 minutes
Journalists

Photo: Jorge Maya / Unsplash

The Spanish bishops, members of the Episcopal Commission for Social Communications, have made public their message on the occasion of the World Communications Day to be celebrated in our country on May 16.

In their message, the prelates expressed their gratitude for the service of communicators "essential for the development of individuals and free societies".

A message in which he did not want to forget the service of communication professionals who died while performing this service, in memory of journalists David Beriáin and Roberto Fraile, killed a few days ago in the exercise of their profession.

Communication for human dignity

In the message, the bishops stressed the need to "renew the effort to know the reality first hand", in this sense, they wanted to emphasize how "in communication, nothing can completely replace the fact of seeing in person. Therefore, it is necessary to make visible the news with a face, especially those that put in value the dignity of the person, as gestures of solidarity that we have known in the midst of the harshness of this health crisis".

The danger of "political finger-pointing

Recent events, such as the accusations against journalists by some political personalities in Spain, have not gone unnoticed in this Message. In fact, the bishops point out two dangers for freedom of information and access to the true reality of citizens: on the one hand, the "false news that is spread especially in social networks, has wanted to be countered with a proclamation of official truths from public institutions" and, related to this "constructed truth" the "pointing out from political positions of journalists and media, or the prohibition for news coverage of political acts". In this line, in their message, the bishops recall that "to limit the exercise of journalism or to point it out is to limit and point out the exercise of freedom".

Finally, the prelates did not want to forget the difficulties faced by communication professionals because of the "frenetic pace of current events and the poor quality of some sources of information. A danger against which they urge to "verify sources, verify information, correct errors, rectify information". The bishops also wanted to encourage all communicators in these difficult times to carry out their indispensable work. At the same time, we invite news companies to put access to the truth above other legitimate interests, since their first and great responsibility is to the truth and to society.

Full text of the Message

The effort to find and tell the truth

World Communications Day, which we celebrate each year on the Lord's Ascension Day, is a good time to look at the world of communications from the perspective of the times in which we live. We look at this service with deep gratitude. Communication is essential for the development of individuals and free societies. As the Gospel points out, we believe that without truth there can be no freedom (cf. Jn 8:32), and without freedom there can be no dignified coexistence. Communication helps us to know the reality and the environment in which we live, to form criteria on social and cultural currents, to develop the playful and solidary dimensions of the person. All this is necessary for the vital development of a people.

Many people work to make this service possible. Communicators, reporters, broadcasters, technicians, journalists, and so many other communication professionals give a good part of their time with professionalism and rigor to serve society. Sometimes this service has its origin in a personal vocation, a call received to contribute to the common good. At times, we see with sadness that the pursuit of personal interests unrelated to the common good has attacked this freedom with verbal or even physical violence. Some journalists, also recently, have given their lives in fulfilling their mission. Our recognition, gratitude and prayers go out to them now. They gave their lives for our freedom.

In his message for World Communications Day, which was made public on the feast of St. Francis de Sales, Pope Francis encourages journalists to renew their commitment and enthusiasm for this profession. With the motto "Come and sees" (Jn 1:46). Communicate by meeting people where they are and as they are, the Pope encourages us to "get going, go and see, be with people, listen to them, pick up the suggestions of reality, which will always surprise us in every aspect".

Precisely at this time, in the midst of the difficulties that the Covid-19 pandemic has brought to all of us, it is necessary for journalists to renew their efforts to know the reality first hand. We ask not to fall into the temptation of a journalism of editorial office, desk and computer, a journalism without going out into the street, without the personal encounter with the news and its protagonists. In communication, nothing can completely replace the fact of seeing in person. For this reason, it is necessary to make visible the news with a face, especially those that value the dignity of the person, as gestures of solidarity that we have known in the midst of the harshness of this health crisis. Some values can only be learned from the testimony of those who live them narrated by communication.

We are aware that this service to society is beset by multiple dangers. The chaos caused by the false news that spreads especially in social networks, has wanted to be countered with a proclamation of official truths from public institutions. In reality, this idea increases the risks against truth and offers a scenario quite close to the one described in some disturbingly topical dystopian novels. No lesser risk to freedom is posed by the political targeting of journalists and the media, or the prohibition of news coverage of political events. To limit the exercise of journalism or to point it out is to limit and point out the exercise of freedom.

Another risk of the profession is the frenetic pace of current affairs and the poor quality of some sources of information, which can undermine the essential principles of the profession. However, even in these difficult times, it is necessary, perhaps more than ever, to verify sources, verify information, correct errors and rectify information.

It can be stated with conviction that truth implies a great effort to find it and a greater effort to offer it. But, as Pope Francis says, we cannot lose sight of the fact that the work of the journalist is "useful and valuable only if it pushes us to go and see the reality that we would not otherwise know, if it networks knowledge that would not otherwise circulate, if it allows encounters that would not otherwise take place". Communication professionals must be, with their work, generators of spaces of encounter with the truth of people and events.

For all these reasons, we, the bishops who are members of this Commission for Social Communications, wish to encourage all communicators in these difficult times for the exercise of an indispensable work. At the same time, we invite news companies to place access to the truth above other legitimate interests, since their first and great responsibility is to the truth and to society. Finally, all of us who benefit from this work are also co-responsible with the truth, especially in the environment of social networks and in the dissemination of true news that help to improve our society.

May the Virgin Mary, mother of Jesus Christ, whom we know as Truth, help all professionals in the exercise of a worthy and honest mission for the good of society.

José Manuel Lorca, Bishop of Cartagena and President of CECS

Bishop Salvador Giménez, Bishop of Lleida

Bishop José Ignacio Munilla, Bishop of San Sebastián

Bishop Sebastià Taltavull, Bishop of Mallorca

Bishop Antonio Gómez Cantero, Coadjutor Bishop of Almería

Bishop Francisco José Prieto, auxiliary bishop of Santiago de Compostela

Msgr. Joan Piris, Bishop Emeritus of Lleida

In collaboration with
Do you want independent, truthful and relevant news?

Dear reader, Omnes reports with rigor and depth on religious news. We do a research work that allows the reader to acquire criteria on the events and stories that happen in the Catholic sphere and the Church. We have star signatures and correspondents in Rome who help us to make the background information stand out from the media noise, with ideological distance and independence.

We need you to face the new challenges of a changing media landscape and a reality that demands reflection, we need your support.

In collaboration with
More on Omnes
La Brújula Newsletter Leave us your email and receive every week the latest news curated with a catholic point of view.