RADIO, AN ANTIDOTE TO FAKE NEWS

Many changes are coming to what we know today as Vatican Radio, and I mentioned one of these in yesterday’s column – the disappearance of the 15-minute Italian, French and English-language morning news programs, replaced by Italian commentary and news, and the fact that whoever wants to listen to English news and reports in the evening can only do so via digital radio.

I found this talk today by Msgr Dario Vigano interesting, although he does not refer to any specifics in the ongoing reform of Vatican communications, specifically the radio. I personally know of a number of changes in personnel – people transferred from Vatican Radio to another office someplace in the Vatican, perhaps a pontifical council, even if their skills are in broadcasting. I’ve seen radio people transferred from an office where they have worked for years to another room where there are already personnel and small spaces have to be shared.

Is the building that houses all the offices of the 40 or so languages at Vatican Radio about to be used to house other Vatican offices – perhaps a new entity about to be created by the Pope? Perhaps in the long run we will learn what these changes mean.

RADIO, AN ANTIDOTE TO FAKE NEWS

(Vatican Radio) The prefect of the  Secretariat for Communications, Msgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò on Thursday addressed a workshop in Milan entitled “Journalism in the age of Fake News. The frontier of radio.”

Facts versus fiction

In remarks prepared for the occasion,  Msgr. Viganò began by stressing the importance of fact and source checking in this era of fake news, saying that it was “worth remembering that the verification of sources is the primary rule of journalism, adding that, in the age of contemporary information truth runs the risk of becoming a secondary aspect.”

The prefect went on to say that, “because of a continuous technological evolution, it is difficult to use the conceptual categories of the past,” and he noted the role of the internet and social media which have played their part in changing the media boundaries that people have become accustomed to.

Msgr. Viganò said that what was required in this era of fake news was “to reiterate the need to recover the foundations of ethics and the ethics of the journalistic profession that are based precisely on the verification of sources as well as on other principles.” He also commented that there was a need for critical thinking on the part of social media users who often share information on their own profiles without paying too much attention to the text.

Radio and Fake news

Turning his attention to radio, he said that in this age of fake news, “…radio is a strategic key to ‘anti fake news’,” which can not only counteract this phenomenon but can facilitate an opposing logic.

By exploiting the new media, he said, “radio has strengthened its identity at all times and has kept its appeal intact both in terms of audience, advertising and economic investments.”

Msgr. Viganò underlined that radio enjoys consistent credibility among young people who put it in pole position among the traditional media, such as TV and newspapers.

In short, he said radio involves an extraordinary narrative immediacy that has a fundamental value.

Msgr.Viganò was participating at the workshop ahead of the 69th edition of Gran Prix Italia, the Rai International Competition dedicated to innovative radio and TV programs and high-quality cultural and artistic programs.

 

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ARE THESE THE CHANGES IN VATICAN COMMUNICATIONS?

The Italian news agency ANSA reported this morning that, according to Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, Pope Francis’s audiences for Thursday have been cancelled because the 79-year-old pontiff has a high temperature. Fr. Lombardi said the pope had a “slight indisposition, nothing serious” adding that, as usual, Francis celebrated Mass at the Santa Marta residence where he lives inside the Vatican on Thursday morning. “For the moment he is resting,” Lombardi said. “He usually recovers quite quickly. Anyway, we’ll see.”

Most of my day has been outside of the office, including getting ready to be with Jim and Joy AT HOME this evening. Be sure to tune in!

The book with Pope Francis’ answers to 31 questions from children around the world was presented this morning in its Italian version, one of the 16 languages in which the book has been published. The Italian-language book is called Before the World, Love. The English version is set to debut March 1 and is titled Dear Pope Francis. Prepared by Jesuit Fr. Antonio Spadaro, the book presents 31 letters and drawings selected from those presented by 296 students from Jesuit-run schools and institutions in 26 countries. A percentage of the sales will be given to the JRS, Jesuit Refugee Service. (More about this, along with a few photos, tomorrow).

AMORE

ARE THESE THE CHANGES IN VATICAN COMMUNICATIONS?

This morning I read, and then posted, Vatican’ Radio’s report by Philippa Hitchens entitled, “Father Lombardi’s lasting legacy at Vatican Radio.”

The piece starts: Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi steps down as Director General of Vatican Radio at the end of February, in the context of a major overhaul of the Holy See’s media and communications organisations.

When I got to the final paragraph, it sounded like what was not going to last was Vatican Radio itself, at least not the name! After 85 years! A name it has had since day one – February 12, 1931.

Here is what that paragraph says: Fr Lombardi’s departure from the Palazzo Pio headquarters marks the end of an era for the Jesuits too, whom Pope Pius XI entrusted with the running of the Radio back in 1931. Pope Francis has made clear he wants the order to continue working in communications, though it’s not yet clear how that service may take shape. The name – Vatican Radio – will also cease to exist in the coming months, as it becomes more closely incorporated into a combined output of TV, newspaper, web and social media production. What Fr Lombardi says he hopes will remain at the heart of the new media operation is the dedication of those committed to their mission of sharing the Good News with those on the margins of today’s ‘throwaway culture’. 

In addition to this bombshell piece of news, I read this at the end of today’s edition of VIS (Vatican Information Service): NOTICE TO VIS SUBSCRIBERS Vatican City, 25 February 2016 (VIS) – From Tuesday 1 March 2016, the Vatican Information Service newsletter will not be transmitted …

We’ve all know there would be some changes in the communications structure since last June when the Pope instituted the Secretariat for Communications. A certain amount of streamlining was expected, although indications were given that taking care of personnel working for the Vatican’s communication offices (Vatican Radio, CTV, Press Office, VIS, L’Osservatore Romano, Pontifical Council for Social Communications) was a high priority.

To a person, the people I have spoken to today, when I told them of the news that the name “Vatican Radio” would soon disappear told me I was mistaken, that could not happen, I had heard or read the story incorrectly, no one would change history, what I was saying had no sense, and so on.

I am still stunned by this announcement. To be honest, I first heard Philippa’s account on Vatican Radio this morning as I was preparing for an appointment, Absolutely sure I had misunderstood her final words, I went online to find the story – there it was, I had no misheard at all.

My heartbeat quickens as I wonder what is down the road for Vatican communications after learning of such a shocking change for the historic Vatican Radio. What will disappear next? What is the rationale behind such changes, behind a “major overhaul”? Perhaps this is what interests me (and others) most.

Here is the link to the entire Philippa Hitchen story: http://www.news.va/en/news/fr-lombardi-reflects-on-lasting-legacy-of-vatican