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Issues of Doctrines & Morals
15th JOS ARCHDIOCESAN GENERAL ASSEMBLY. Opening Mass 21st August 2017 St Louis 9:00am
Aug 14, 2017

OPENING MASS FOR THE 15TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY ...

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Celebrating 50th World Communications Day

A Talk Presented to the Catholic Mass Media Practitioners, Archdiocese of Jos on the Occasion of the 50th World Communications Day by Fr. Alexander Dung. 7th May 2016 @ the Communications Office, Jos. Theme: COMMUNICATION AND MERCY: A FRUITFUL ENCOUNTER.

Introduction: The declaration of the extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy by Pope Francis ( 8th December 2015 – 20th November 2016) has opened up more possibilities and greatly widened the pastoral scope in the mission of the church. This was a clarion call to make a dramatic shift from seeing the church as a structure of hierarchy and dogmatic rituals to  seeing it as human. It is in the light of the above that the Pope calls us to reflect on Communication and Mercy: A Fruitful Encounter, as the theme for this year’s Communications Day. I shall therefore attempt in this short presentation to highlight some of the salient points underscored by the Pope’s message and marshal out modalities that would better help us as communicators.

Communication and Mercy. The link between communication and mercy is so closed, giving that every information has the power to transform the listener negatively or positively. An information can either build up or pull down.  As the pope opines, Communication has the power to build bridges, to enable encounter and inclusion, and thus to enrich society. How beautiful it is when people select their words and actions with care, in the effort to avoid misunderstandings, to heal wounded memories and to build peace and harmony. Words can build bridges between individuals and within families, social groups and peoples”.

This goes to show the important role we play in reshaping our society. Thus while we transmit information as a profession, we cannot disregard the tremendous responsibility attached to this prestigious profession. A communication person cannot be detached from the information that he or she is sending out. While operating within the scope of our ethics, mercy must always guide our lives as Catholic journalist. As image workers, we become “secular evangelist”.

The Content of information: What we transmit of refused to transmit covers the totality of our work as Mass Media practitioners. journalists. While our profession calls and impresses on us the obligation to inform the general public, we must never forget that not every word, action or event is an object of positive information. We must therefore be careful what we report. There is a general trend today in information management which seeks to push journalists into an unhealthy competition of being the first to report. This has caused irreparable damage to individuals and organization. We must always remember that no one can adequately undo or retrieve an information that has been communicated. Let us avoid the trivialization of serious matter especially those that affect human life and development.

Another aspect which is rather neglected today by many journalists, is the moral aspect of communication. This covers the areas of nudity and vulgarity of language especially in some private electronic media. We must be seen to be protagonist in the promotion of decently especially in our world where moral and cultural values are fast becoming a matter of personal opinion.

Our Target in Communication. Every journalist has a targeted audience that will receive an information sent out. The target sometimes becomes the motive for why such information should be communicated. The Pope wants us to target the poor, the marginalized and the voiceless of our society.  Today, a lot of emphasis is placed on politics and individual achievements of the highly placed in our society, while the interest of the downtrodden is hardly heard. Keeping the authorities concerned informed on the plight of the poor is a gesture of mercy in the right direction. Reporting events and the lives of the less privileged of our society is our line of action. Communities that are ravaged by poverty and war can also be a way of communicating mercy.

Manner of Approach. The manner and time in which an information is given is as important as the information itself. This explains the importance of contextualization in information management.  How an information is given is determined by the motive behind that information. After all, the word information itself is a derivative from a compound verb “informare” meaning “to put it in a particular manner or form”. Thus every message is an information as long as we put our reports in a particular manner. The question must always be asked “will what I am reporting build up or destroy? It is within the power of journalist to promote peace or war by the emphasis we place on certain events and people.    

Conclusion: In this year of mercy that we celebrate World’s Communications Day, there is the need to revisit our ethics of journalism. Let us therefore put into positive use our tools and talents. We have the moral obligation to build up the consciences of our audience. The days of passive journalism are over. Let us embrace and promote active and conscious information management. Our work is in fact a form of evangelization. And it is through this platform that we can exercise and promote our faith.

 


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