Pope Francis calls fake news a “grave sin”

Pope Francis at the weekend waded into the topical “fake news” controversy, warning journalists against the “sins of communication” – which he said included telling only one side of a story, sensationalism, slander, and dredging up “outdated and old” issues, CNSNews reported.

“They are very grave sins which damage the heart of the journalist and harm people,” he told several hundred representatives of the Italian Periodical Press Union and the Italian Federation of Catholic Weeklies at the Vatican.

Pope Francis alluded to problems that arise when media outlets are so focused on being first to break a story that accuracy and context are compromised.

 “In our time, often dominated by the anxiety of speed, by the drive for sensationalism to the detriment of precision and completeness, by the calculated overheating of emotion rather than thoughtful reflection, there is an urgent need for reliable information, with verified data and news, which does not aim to amaze and excite, but rather to make readers develop a healthy critical sense, enabling them to ask themselves appropriate questions and reach justified conclusions.”
The Pope spoke of the importance of free media in societies that are or yearn to be democracies, and did not underplay the importance of media acting in a responsible manner.

Pope Francis called for news that is disseminated with “serenity, precision and completeness,” relying on language that is calm and reasoned, rather than “strident and ambiguous.”

Journalists should aim to help readers, listeners and viewers to “understand and discern,” not be “stunned and disoriented.”

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