Sunday, July 1, 2018

Fake News And Trust

Fake news is a topic, prominent in many countries and Korea is no exception. It is a serious issue and one that will not disappear easily. The Catholic Newspaper Editing Committee met recently to discuss the issue and followed with a special article in the Catholic Times reflecting on what Pope Francis said in his message on World Communication Day.

"The term “fake news” has been the object of great discussion and debate. In general, it refers to the spreading of disinformation online or in the traditional media. It has to do with false information based on non-existent or distorted data meant to deceive and manipulate the reader. Spreading fake news can serve to advance specific goals, influence political decisions, and serve economic interests.The effectiveness of fake news is primarily due to its ability to mimic real news, to seem plausible.

Secondly, this false but believable news is 'captious, inasmuch as it grasps people’s attention by appealing to stereotypes and common social prejudices, and exploiting instantaneous emotions like anxiety, contempt, anger, and frustration. The ability to spread such fake news often relies on a manipulative use of the social networks and the way they function. Untrue stories can spread so quickly that even authoritative denials fail to contain the damage."

What is the Korean church doing in this area?  The Catholic Times has mentioned the topic often in articles and reports. The countermeasure against fake news is realizing the truth. Media literacy education is important but is there any organization within the church planning programs in media literacy education?  They were not familiar with any, consequently, it is the work of the Catholic press to gather experts and set up measures to educate believers in literacy education.

This is not a one-time event but with a long-term goal. Many groups within the church which are not officially approved by the church are deceiving many in spreading the fake news through SNS.They damage and cause harm to the entire church. The church's official media should help the believers to identify this false information. Wrong facts, distortion, poor reporting of the news should also be included in the fake news category.

An editorial evaluates facts and suggests alternatives  not theoretically but concretely. Often the content of the editorials was just a rehash of the articles. When embarrassing Catholic issues were mentioned in the secular press we have been passive and calm we concern ourselves only with countermeasures and results but skip the assessment and reasons for the situation.

Recently, the church has become quite diverse. One of the participants would like to propose fake news related planning in the second half of the year. Catholic newspapers should help believers identify fake news. For example, planned is training to identify false news, begin relevant seminars, and place the contents in the paper. 

The pope ended his message with a paraphrase of the Peace Prayer of St. Francis and a good meditation on what the aim should be in reporting news.

Lord, make us instruments of your peace.
Help us to recognize the evil latent in a communication that does not build communion.
Help us to remove the venom from our judgments.
Help us to speak about others as our brothers and sisters.
You are faithful and trustworthy; may our words be seeds of goodness for the world:
where there is shouting, let us practice listening;
where there is confusion, let us inspire harmony;
where there is ambiguity, let us bring clarity;
where there is exclusion, let us offer solidarity;
where there is sensationalism, let us use sobriety;
where there is superficiality, let us raise real questions;
where there is prejudice, let us awaken trust;
where there is hostility, let us bring respect;
where there is a falsehood, let us bring truth.