My heart is hurting. For 10 years of my life, I worked as a desk assistant, producer, reporter and/or anchor in radio news. I left in 2006 after I had given birth to a child who had special needs at the time and stayed out. But I still feel like I’m part of the news family.
My heart hurts today as five people were killed, being shot to death by a person who came into a newsroom with a gun. You learn in journalism school about the dangers of reporting in other countries where speech isn’t free. You know in America, where there is a right to free expression and reporting, that not everyone will like what you say. But you never imagine that reporting in America could get you killed.
This is a frustrating time for a lot of people. How could we imagine in America there would be a thing called “fake news” that is not just on the fringes, but in the mainstream? It seems that news itself is often polarized into certain viewpoints. Sometimes, what is “fake” is merely what you didn’t agree with.
My former associate pastor at Saint Elizabeth, and now the brand-new associate at Saint Louis King of France, Father Jesse Martinez, would speak of it in his homilies. On the Solemnity of Saint John the Baptist, he reminded us that every baptized person is given the responsibility of being a prophet. We all have a duty to speak and report the Good News-- that this world is broken, our hearts are broken, but that Jesus saves.
Deacon Barry Ryan read in the Prayers of the Faithful an intention for prophets and, in particular, for those who work in news, that they would hold their responsibility well to always speak the truth. Father Jesse, knowing that I worked in news, turned his eyes from the Deacon and into the congregation. He looked right at me. And I looked right at him. This is so much a prayer for both of us.
Truth. Reporters have a responsibility to speak the truth. What is truth? I really do sit in chapels all day asking that of Jesus. I read Him news stories and people’s social media comments, and I ask Him for the truth. What is the truth when the stories in my Facebook newsfeed say one thing for my friends on the left and another for my friends on the right?
I think it’s a frustrating time for those who are on the left, and they are angry that news media on the right say things they think aren’t true. I think it’s frustrating for those on the right who think media on the left say things they think aren’t true. And I know it’s frustrating for those of us in between who want to know what’s true when they see things that contradict.
My answer to “what is truth” always takes me back to Jesus, who claimed to be Truth. The answer surely isn’t to take a gun and mow down the people with whom you disagree, politically or otherwise. The people I know in news, whatever their leanings, really believe in the cause of helping others. There are, however, some jaded people who “love a good child abuse story,” as I was once told by a news director. And there are also some who are eager to “scare-ify,” an interesting verb given to me by a programming director. But in my general experience, journalists have some of the biggest hearts of anyone I know.
My heart is hurting for my news family, for the news industry, and for America. God help His prophets. May He help us all courageously search for the Truth and stand for it.