You are what you read

Fr Ireneusz Skubis

One of the important subjects that are being discussed today both in the press and on the radio and television is the problem of ... journalism. We are still waiting for truly wise and authentically objective journalists, realising the informational-educational mission, which forms the conscience and morality of man who is the receiver of the effects of journalists' efforts. In order to fulfil these aims a man who deals with these matters must be righteous, honest, trustworthy, and solid and he must love the truth. Naturally, he must be prepared to discuss the subject and have an authentic desire to inform receivers. The role and tasks of a journalist are not easy; they do not only require deep analysis of the subject, diligence but also courage and simple resourcefulness. We are living in hard times and we often deal with dishonest people. The value of our work depends on how quickly we will react to problems and how we will present problems.
An honest journalist will not base his opinions on careless investigation, he must do his best to reach the truth and present it in a trustworthy way. Therefore, good journalism requires enormous effort, self-sacrifice and responsibility for what has been written or spoken. Here we touch the Christian dimension of journalist's work - getting to know the truth that sets us free (cf. John 8:32), so the truth that makes a man open himself to true reality, seen through the prism of the Gospel. Society needs good journalists, who are to be the light for human society, trustworthy witnesses to the functioning of state or social institutions, objective observers of political life. Therefore, their morality, sensitive conscience and honesty are important. Since the media form our lives and influence on our lives so that our lives are 'smooth', filled with righteousness and justice.
Today we speak about the fourth estate, i.e. power of the media. It is sometimes said they are the first estate, which determines political and social life. That's why it seems that society must take concrete steps towards good journalism. Those who want to work with the media should fulfil high requirements, first of all ethical and moral ones, since society must have a good physician. That especially concerns the society, which has many faults on variable levels.
A lot depends on us, readers and receivers. We should look for good press titles, get to know editors, ask for editorial objectives, ask about what and whom these titles serve. I must admit that once I did not give big chances to the magazine 'Nie' [No], published by Jerzy Urban. It seemed to me that people would notice that it was bias and unsuitable in the world of media. I was wrong. It looks different than what I thought since many people, including believers who call themselves Christians, relish the contents of the articles that are contrary to Christ's teaching instead of rejecting them.
I want to strongly emphasise that we must not support the media and journalists who do not serve the truth, who do not work honestly, who present things, which are hostile to Christian values. We should ask: whose kingdom do I support - God's kingdom or Satan's kingdom? We will most often find the answer in the titles we buy, on their covers, in announcements of radio and television programmes. If we are to be people worthy of Christ, the Saviour of the world, we must deeply reflect on our attitude towards the media that are on our Polish market.

"Niedziela" 13/2006

Editor: Tygodnik Katolicki "Niedziela", ul. 3 Maja 12, 42-200 Czestochowa, Polska
Editor-in-chief: Fr Jaroslaw Grabowski • E-mail: