Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Silence of the Press

Mass media's power in society is often underestimated.  In the medieval period, we had the three estates, in our society the fourth estate, when the words are used, refer to the mass media. The power of the mass media, both the positive and the negative are extensive: affecting our physical, emotional, psychological and the spiritual life.

The negative influence comes not only by slanting the news, emphasizing certain aspects of life out of proportion to reality, failing to report the news honestly, not taking into account the way news is reported, but also in failing to report news and ignoring what goes against the editorial policies of the news outlet.

Writing in the Catholic Times the head of a diocesan justice and peace committee mentions in his column on the Sewol Ferry tragedy this last point: failure to report on the demonstrations going on by the families of the victims is a form of censorship of the news by those who should be reporting the news.

Families of the  Sewol Ferry Tragedy  continue in the center of Seoul with their  fasting. (The Sewol Ferry sank on April 16, 2014, on route to Jeju Island with school children on their class trip. The ferry capsized  carrying 476 people mostly high school students). Families of the victims want to know the truth behind the sinking of the  ship and the reasons and feel this is not what is happening, consequently, the peaceful demonstrations~ shaving of their heads and fasting.

The families of the victims in the center of Seoul are trying to get the attention of the citizens but the mass media is keeping the citizens in the dark which makes the families feel like they are on an island in the middle of Seoul.

Two years and a half have passed since the sinking; serious gestures have been made to uncover the truth, punish the responsible, and work for a  more secure society but at the same time, the truth of what was involved has sunk to the bottom of the ocean with the silence of the mass media. 

The writer wants to see an openness of the press. "The information provided by the media is at the service of the common good. Society has a right to information based on truth, freedom, justice, and solidarity" (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2494).

"Among the obstacles that hinder the full exercise of the right to objectivity in information, special attention must be given to the phenomenon of the news media being controlled by just a few people or groups. This has dangerous effects on the entire democratic system when this phenomenon is accompanied by ever closer ties between governmental activity and the financial and information establishments"  (Social  Gospel Compendium 414).

"In the world of the media, the intrinsic difficulties of communications are often exacerbated by ideology, the desire for profit and political control, rivalry and conflicts between groups, and other social evils" (Social Gospel Compendium 416).

He concludes the article by asking: Is the Church  free of blame from the way it reports the news and as Christians are we free in the way we receive  and accept the news?

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