In the dialogue between media and politics, toeing the line is a risky thing to do as the media have to be careful not to compromise the truth, and the search for the common good, which both media and politicians aspire to do to have a peaceful society. Actually both of them aspires for the common good, only that media persons are called to uphold the truth in view of the common good. A power struggle occurs when selfish vested interests are prioritized either by media people or by politicians. Conflicts between these two important sectors will continuously arise if they can’t meet on common ground which is, searching for the truth and the common good.

The two should behave with mutual respect, in a critical and receptive collaboration. For media persons, this means working with politicians without compromising ethics and the truth. For politicians, this means validating reports by media persons, or even by netizens, in view of offering public service to their constituents. Media persons are also called to be creative in their manner of reporting so as to show the real situation in the grassroots, especially in those places where government services are not accessible and to report this in a non-judgmental and constructive way. Prudence is much needed, especially for places of conflicts or in nations under difficult leaders like dictators or a military junta where dialogue seems impossible.

But in places, where democracy is flourishing and human rights respected, the table is turned. Politicians can easily be unseated because of media’s great power and influence, or by the tyranny of the mass media, and now, also of social media. This is another challenge in the dialogue between media and politics. Mass media today has evolved and anyone can now be a “reporter”, a “journalist”, or a “radio and internet patroller” since the power of social media is now within everyone’s reach.

The challenge of mutual respect and reciprocity is urgent, particularly this time that news, especially fake news, easily go viral. Critical scrutiny, social media literacy and values education are much needed, and I think Rotary’s guideline can help in this reciprocal relationship of dialogue between media and politics: Is it the truth?, Is it fair to all concerned?, Will it build goodwill and better friendships?, and Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Another good guideline for this relationship is the Golden Rule “do unto others what you would like others to do unto you…” So before we click and make something go viral, we must think first: Would I like this thing to happen to me? What will I feel if this post refers to me? Think before we click and post, is still a very practical slogan, bearing the Golden Rule always in mind. With this disposition, we will be careful of our comments and posts. We will be more prudent in expressing ourselves always being mindful to post the truth, it must be fair to all concerned, and it should build goodwill and better friendships and be beneficial to all concerned.

Another good guideline in social media is the Art of Loving as proposed by Chiara Lubich based on the Gospel: Am I loving everyone? Do I see and respect God’s image and likeness in others about whom I will post? Do I forgive those who have wronged me? Do I empathize and make myself one with the others, will I hurt another’s sensitivity or feelings, and will it generate unity or disunity?

Freedom of expression will not be compromised if our goal is noble, like the goal of unity and universal brotherhood, which as a consequence covers protection and defence of life, as well as human rights.

The human person in all its forms and stages should be the basis
of any dialogue between media and politics, and this also goes for other fields like science, education, medicine, engineering, etc. As Vatican II’s Church in the Modern World document Gaudium et Spes expresses it: “Respect and love ought to be extended also to those who think or act differently than we do in social, political and even religious matters. In fact, the more deeply we come to understand their ways of thinking through such courtesy and love, the more easily will we be able to enter into dialogue with them….(GS 28)

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