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Monday, December 5, 2016
Scottish bishop appeals for ethics in the media
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 In his message sent to all of Scotland's 500 parishes for the 42nd World Communications Day, Bishop Philip Tartaglia President of the National Communications Commission of the Bishops' Conference of Scotland claims "a fundamental disconnection between the provider and the consumer" has occurred in the media. The letter which will be read at all Masses on Sunday, 4 May suggests that "mass communications can fairly be charged with losing the ethical underpinning that once existed". Bishop Tartaglia points out, "While the last national census showed that over two thirds of Scots described themselves as Christians, few of those who work in radio, television and the press share this identity." In response the letter endorses Pope Benedict's call for "info-ethics", just as we have bioethics in the field of medicine and scientific research, concluding "Analysing the ethical implications of how information is transmitted would help the media avoid becoming spokespersons for a secular and humanistic agenda. It is crucial that those who work in this field seek to understand the moral and ethical view of humanity shared by those of us who believe in God." The full text of the letter is shown below. My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, The theme of this year's World Communications Day - "The Media: At the Crossroads between Self-Promotion and Service. Searching for the Truth in order to Share it with Others" - highlights the important role of the media in the life of individuals and society. As the Pope says in his message this year; "there is no area of human experience, especially given the vast phenomenon of globalization, in which the media have not become an integral part of interpersonal relations and of social, economic, political and religious development. The mass media today is pervasive, persuasive and all too often invasive. Pope Benedict rightly acknowledges the contribution the media can make to the diffusion of news, to knowledge of facts and to the dissemination of information. At the same time the Pope warns that the mass media can be used for ideological purposes, and "can tend to legitimise or impose distorted models of personal, family or social life. As Scottish Catholics, we know only too well how true this is, and we are keenly aware of how rarely our own media represents us as people of faith in a fair or balanced manner. Today, mass communications can fairly be charged with losing the ethical underpinning that once existed. It is a sad reality that those involved in the production and dissemination of much of our media content do not themselves share the religious or moral perspectives of their audience. There has occurred a fundamental disconnection between the provider and the consumer. While the last national census showed that over two thirds of Scots described themselves as Christians, few of those who work in radio, television and the press share this identity. How then can they understand what motivates and engages us? How can they provide us, their viewers, listeners and readers with appropriate content? The Pope suggests we need to introduce "info-ethics", just as we have bioethics in the field of medicine and scientific research. Analysing the ethical implications of how information is transmitted would help the media avoid becoming spokespersons for a secular and humanistic agenda. It is crucial that those who work in this field seek to understand the moral and ethical view of humanity shared by those of us who believe in God. We each have a responsibility to help them in this task. We are all consumers of the mass media and when we are misrepresented or maligned we must speak out. Likewise, when our values and ideals are respected and represented fairly, we must praise and commend. Nationally this is exactly what our Catholic Media Office through imaginative and ongoing engagement with the media seeks to do. To this end, to coincide with World Communications day, the Scottish Catholic Media Office has created a new website. The new website can be viewed at www.scmo.org I would urge you to visit this site. It will allow you to see first hand what the Church has said on a wide range of issues, in turn preventing you from being misled by partial or inaccurate media coverage. The new website includes audio clips and video content, and includes a facility which allows anyone to subscribe to all media releases simply by entering their email address. Again I would urge you to subscribe in this way to the output of our Media Office While the information service provided by the Media Office is free at the point of use, it clearly has to be paid for. With this in mind I appeal to your great generosity in asking you to contribute to today,s special communications collection. Finally, in the words of Pope John Paul II of happy memory: "Let us ask the Holy Spirit to raise up courageous communicators and authentic witnesses to the truth, faithful to Christ's mandate and enthusiastic for the message of the faith. Yours devotedly in Christ Bishop Philip Tartaglia To coincide with World Communications Day, the Scottish Catholic Media Office has created a new website. The new website can be viewed at www.scmo.org. This new website includes audio clips and video content, and includes a facility which allows anyone to subscribe to all media releases simply by entering their email address.
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