Monday, November 15, 2010

Prophetic Voice of Catholic Media

The 11th symposium of a pastoral group met recently to examine the prophetic voice of the media and its place in the life of the Church. The topic was "With the word, we see the way: Obligation and reflection on the media and the Church." Both Catholic newspapers covered the symposium and gave brief summaries of the proceedings.

One participant mentioned that if the media is to give the citizens joy and hope there has to be media reform. Legislation should stop the influence of big money and control of the media. Public opinion and religious groups have to be mobilized to work for an independent media. At present the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and much of the blame, said the participant, belongs with the media. After receiving help from the International Monetary Fund, Korea accepted neo-liberalism (no government controls on economic development) and we now have in Korea, according to the participant, 20 percent of the population who are well off and 80 percent who are struggling to make ends meet. The media does not educate the public on the effects of neo-liberalism and by their silence the citizens remain ignorant of the root problems and why we have them.

Another participant directly involved with the Catholic media said that Catholic media needs to be more conscious of Gospel values, and stay away from dealing with disputed societal issues. That should be, he believes, the work of the secular press and the specialists, with the Church restricting its interests to fundamental issues and causes. The media does have a prophetic role, he said, and should not--as the prophets of old did not--stay in the back room to pray but go out to the people to reprimand those who had done wrong and make known God's will. The job of the journalist is not easy to begin with. It is even more difficult when taking on the role of a prophet. This is what Catholic media should be doing in today's world but fitting the prophetic role of a journalist with love, forgiveness and reconciliation, is not easy.    

Media is a business, with the inevitable turmoil of competing in a market economy. Talented people are needed. The quality and quantity of production considered; money, advertising and government involvement are all areas of concern.

The situation is made somewhat easier for the Church by having a good "brand name" in its favor. We do not have serious divisions, in-fighting and control by business, so we are free to go after the facts and truth. This allows us to work for the common good, and be the much needed prophetic voice that will educate the public on issues that the secular media covers poorly or not at all, or does so from a narrow ideological perspective.

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