Update 6-26-18: My new e-book recently became available through Amazon Kindle and Smashwords. This book, with further iterations anticipated, is a set of reflections and resources connected to the 2018 World Communications Day message officially presented by Pope Francis on May 13. You’ll see that my commentary builds upon the prayer with which the Pope concludes his message–a wise and inspiring paraphrase of the famous Peace Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi.
I couldn’t resist pondering how we–as producers as well as consumers of news–could serve as “instruments of peace” by renewing journalism.
Let me know (at firstname.lastname@example.org) what you think after you’ve purchased my brief book. Discussions about how to heal our polarized nation and its contentious conversations have to start in earnest among all of us. This does not require the compilation of detailed tomes, so I’m happy with this “day of small beginnings” through the medium of e-books. My thanks go to the talented folks at Electric Moon Publishing for helping me to e-navigate.
We need new voices and informed viewpoints in all media, plus a refreshed sense of trust, hope, shared purpose, and human dignity among participants in the public square. It is my modest goal to raise awareness of the insights Pope Francis is contributing to the discussion. He has stepped forward as a world leader whose concern about news extends to what I call “headlines that hurt.” Where there is injury, he wants to shape a more forgiving world stabilized by truth, understanding, mercy, justice, and charity.
The reflections I offer are hardly “breaking news.” They’re informed by my own background as a Catholic, as a fan of both Pope Francis and his namesake St. Francis, and as a long-time journalist (in the secular and faith-based arenas) who honors communications and all professional communicators of good will.
I sense part of the cure for our tendencies toward disinformation and division can come from benevolent sensibilities that embrace both faith and reason. But, in the research underlying my commentaries, I am grateful to have learned from a variety of experts in journalism and other fields. They point us toward the cure, regardless of their own faith backgrounds or their attitudes toward the Pope’s stance. I recommend that you also tap into the wise people of good will whom I quoted and linked to in my original text.
We’re welcoming everyone into this conversation because we can’t afford a stand-off between the producers and consumers of our daily information diet. Nowadays, many news consumers are also the gatekeepers and purveyors for their own recipes of reality. Journalism must put us all to work for the common good, in the light of shared truths. It’s not a tool to merely entertain or “engage” or enrage us. That’s why I like the Pope’s decision to include a prayer we all can say, in solidarity, as we “press on” in our journey toward a more peaceful society.
Please say a prayer for me and for all people who would like to advance the cause of “a journalism of peace” for ourselves and future generations. As you’ll see in the original Peace Prayer of St. Francis, becoming instruments of change requires self-sacrifice and a humble willingness to admit our own failings. Our communication will need to be more interpersonal and more contextual, incorporating more listening and more outreach. Pray that we become more understanding even as we ask more questions, tougher questions. We’re looking for less news that “breaks” and more news that builds, fewer headlines that hurt and more headlines that help.