Catholic Pontiff, Pope Francis has called on media practitioners, to ensure that they carry out proper investigation of news stories, before making them available to the public, even as he admonished users and consumers of internet to be more responsible. Pope Francis gave the charge in his message for World Communications Day, titled, “Come and See”, read during Mass for the 2021 World Communications Day, WCD, held at the Holy Cross Cathedral, Lagos. He said the invitation to “come and see”, which was part of those first moving encounters of Jesus with the disciples, is also the method for all authentic human communication. Francis stated that in order to tell the truth of life that becomes history, it is necessary for newsmen to move beyond the complacent attitude that we “already know” certain things, but to go and see them, spend time with people, listen to their stories and confront reality, which always in some way surprises everyone.
He said: “Open your eyes with wonder to what you see, let your hands touch the freshness and vitality of things, so that when others read what you write, they too can touch first-hand the vibrant miracle of life. This was the advice that Blessed Manuel Lozano Garrido offered to his fellow journalists.” The Pope said he devoted the WCD message to the invitation to “come and see”, which can serve as an inspiration for all communication that strives to be clear and honest, in the press, on the internet, in the Church’s daily preaching and in political or social communication. He said: “This has always been the way that the Christian faith has been communicated, from the time of those first encounters on the banks of the River Jordan, and on the Sea of Galilee. “Let us look first at the great issue of news reporting. Insightful voices have long expressed concern about the risk that original investigative reporting in newspapers and television, radio and web newscasts is being replaced by a reportage that adheres to a standard, often tendentious narrative.
“This approach is less capable of grasping 55th World Communications Day: Pope Francis, Archbishop Martins task media practitioners on investigative journalism the truth of things and the concrete lives of people, much less the more serious social phenomena or positive movements at the grass roots level.” Pope Francis noted that the crisis of the publishing industry risks leading to a reportage created in newsrooms, in front of personal or company computers and on social networks, without ever “hitting the streets”, meeting people face to face to research stories or to verify certain situations first hand. He pointed out that unless media practitioners open themselves to the real encounter, they will remain mere spectators, for all the technical innovations that enable themselves feel immersed in a larger and more immediate reality. “Any instrument proves useful and valuable only to the extent that it motivates us to go out and see things that otherwise we would not know about, to post on the internet news that would not be available elsewhere, to allow for encounters that otherwise would never happen.
That is how Christian faith begins, and how it is communicated; as direct knowledge, born of experience, and not of hearsay.” The Pope commended the courage of many journalists, pointing out that journalism, as an account of reality, calls for an ability to go where no one else thinks of going: a readiness to set out and a desire to see. In his submission, the Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, Most Rev. (Dr.) Alfred Adewale Martins while commending media practitioners in their efforts to make news items available to the public in good time, urged them to dig deeper in their respective fields of assignment, to ensure that more reliable pieces of information are disseminated at all times. He urged the government to create enabling environment, as well as ensure that media practitioners have freedom to carry out their work. “The freedom of press is enshrined in the Nigerian constitution, and it is the right of the media practitioners. So, the government and all those concerned are expected to respect that right by that virtue.
It will serve everybody better, if the press is able to bring to light whatever that is going on in our society and the entire world”, he said Also, speaking, Rev. Fr. Anthony Godonu ,Director of Social Communication, Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, applauded the huge efforts of media practitioners in serving as watchdogs of the society. While noting that media practitioners are not well compesated for their contributions in society, Father Godonu urged the government to create an endowment fund for those in the media, to encourage them in their work. “Those in government should recognize the importance of the media, but is unfortunate that they are not paying attention to their welfare. With such attitude, how are they expected to put in their best? In fact, something drastic should be done about that”, he said.