World Press Freedom Day [Archives:2006/944/Letters to the Editor]

May 8 2006

Paul Kokoski
[email protected]

Today, many view freedom of the press solely in terms of overcoming government oppression and censorship..

However, the fundamental moral requirement of all communication is respect for and service of the truth. By accurately reporting events and correctly explaining issues, the media have a strict duty to foster justice and solidarity in human relationships at all levels of society. The media serve freedom by serving truth: they obstruct freedom to the extent that they depart from what is true by disseminating falsehoods or creating a climate of unsound emotional reaction to events. Only when people have free access to true and sufficient information can they pursue the common good and hold public authority accountable. If the media are to serve freedom, they themselves must be free and correctly use that freedom. Their privileged status obliges the media to rise above purely commercial concerns and serve society's true needs and interests. The communications media are key actors in today's world, and they have an immense role to play in building that trust. Their power is such that in a few short days they can create the positive or negative public reaction to events which suits their purposes. Reasonable people will realize that such enormous power calls for the highest standards of commitment to truth and goodness.