At a recent meeting of representatives from Catholic media outlets Pope Francis warned journalists not to push sensationalized news stories that are incomplete, biased, or untruthful. “We must not fall prey to the ‘sins of communication:’ disinformation – that is, giving just one side of the argument – slander, which is sensationalistic, or defamation, looking for outdated and old things, and bringing them to light today; they are very grave sins, which damage the heart of the journalist and harm people,” said Francis. He went on celebrate the work of journalists as essential to democracies across the world and called on media outlets to deliver the world from misinformation. “There is an urgent need for news communicated with serenity, precision, and completeness, with a calm language, to favor a fruitful reflection; carefully weighted and clear words, which reject the inflation of allusive, strident and ambiguous speech. It is important that, methodically and with patience, criteria of judgment and information be offered so that the public is able to understand and discern, and is not stunned and disoriented,” Francis said.
Pope Francis alluded to problems that arise when media outlets are so focused on being first to break a story that accuracy and context are compromised. “In our time, often dominated by the anxiety of speed, by the drive for sensationalism to the detriment of precision and completeness, by the calculated overheating of emotion rather than thoughtful reflection, there is an urgent need for reliable information, with verified data and news, which does not aim to amaze and excite, but rather to make readers develop a healthy critical sense, enabling them to ask themselves appropriate questions and reach justified conclusions.”