Franciscan Sister Kathleen Murphy reflects on Pope Francis’ October Prayer intention.
Each morning of this month we are asked to pray, that journalists, in carrying out their work, may always be motivated by respect for truth and a strong sense of ethics.
The Society of Professional Journalists state in the Preamble to their Code of Ethics: (We) believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues. Conscientious journalists from all media and specialties strive to serve the public with thoroughness and honesty. Professional integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist’s credibility. Members of the Society share a dedication to ethical behavior and adopt this code to declare the Society’s principles and standards of practice. The journalist is to seek truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently and be accountable.
As we approach our nation’s election day, the need for stellar reporting by journalists is more and more imperative. It is also a good time for us to do a “consumers’ examen”. As consumers of the news in its various forms, do we call our journalists to the ethical high ground? Do we select the sources we depend on with care? Do we offer feedback to our media sources via letter or email? Do we inform broadcast organizations of our opinions and our appraisal of their journalists and broadcasts? The market drives what we see, hear and read. If we, as consumers express our like or dislike for a certain level of reporting, then we might expect to see our opinions reflected in future offerings in our papers, on our TVs, computer screens and radios.
As Franciscans we need to keep in mind Francis’ awareness of the social and political milieu around him. Though often lost in prayer, he still saw God’s call in the current events around him. It is in this public arena that he sought peace. Clare, though enclosed, had an unquenchable thirst for truth. She saw the cross as her source, but was also aware of the need for peace and justice in her surroundings. Was it not Clare who saved the city of Assisi when the enemy threatened at its walls? So, let us be informed. Let us seek the ultimate truths in prayer. Let us insist on honesty and transparency from those who keep us informed. Let us pray for courage among all journalists!