Pope asks broadcasters to share the truth, not spread ideology

Pope Francis greets employees from the Italian state television network RAI and their families in the Paul VI Audience Hall at the Vatican March 23, 2024. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Media outlets have a responsibility to share the truth, not spread ideologies, Pope Francis said.

The pope told employees of the Italian state broadcasting corporation, RAI, that their work should be "a response to the needs of citizens," and he encouraged them to serve the common good "with a spirit of universal openness."

Meeting employees and their family members in the Vatican audience hall March 23, Pope Francis said broadcasting the news as a public service "essentially means to seek and promote the truth, the whole truth" by "countering the spread of fake news" and "deceitful" efforts to spread ideologies.

"Truth is one," he said, "it is harmonious, it cannot be divided with self-interest."

The pope asked the RAI broadcasters to provide people with correct information "transmitted without prejudice" by ensuring a "pluralism that respects different opinions and sources."

He told them to engage with a variety of voices by "cultivating dialogue" and listening to others.

Too often, he said, people appear to be listening while they really are just preparing a response, "but to think of my position without receiving (the position) of others is not true dialogue."

Although he had an aide read many of his speeches in the days before the audience, Pope Francis read all of his prepared remarks to the RAI managers and staff and even added spontaneous comments. After his speech, he spent time moving through the crowd in a wheelchair to greet the employees and their families.

In his speech, Pope Francis also spoke about the RAI networks' fictional series, cultural programming, sporting events and children's shows.

"In our age rich in technology but sometimes poor in humanity, it is important to promote the pursuit of beauty," he said, encouraging the broadcasters to help people find meaning in life by diffusing artistic expression.

And he encouraged them to give voice to "the last, the poorest, the voiceless, the discarded" in their programming.

To serve the common good through the media "implies a vocation to be an instrument of growth in knowledge," he said, and he urged them not to alienate people or "feed bubbles of self-serving indifference" with their content.

"You must not chase ratings at the expense of content," he said, but rather build a "widespread demand for quality."

Communication, he said, "can play a fundamental role in our time in reweaving socially vital values such as citizenship and participation."

The pope added that true communication "is always a surprise" that involves "informing and also listening, with respect and humility."


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