Letters & Opinion

Pope and President Press for Press to Protect Truth!

Earl Bousquet
Chronicles Of A Chronic Caribbean Chronicler By Earl Bousquet

RECENT calls for a new global offensive to advance and maintain Truth as the cornerstone of journalism and reporting are gathering support, including from heads of state and church leaders, as well as leading entrepreneurs and respected global opinion-makers.

On January 21-22, 2024 over 60 representatives from media entities in 30 countries gathered in Havana to commemorate Operation Truth – a movement launched 65 years earlier by revolutionary commander Fidel Castro to combat disinformation and take the truth about the new Cuba to the world.

The January conference, hosted by Cuba’s national news agency, Prensa Latina (PL), also discussed the challenges facing media houses globally today in transmitting truth to the world, especially in the face of the overwhelming predominance of traditional mainstream international media.

Participants called for journalists and media houses in developing nations to dedicate more time and resources towards creation of mechanisms to reverse and strengthen the current imbalanced information flows, both from a North-South and a South-South perspective.

Many felt a new Operation Truth should be permanent and support efforts by media entities already engaged in reducing the imbalanced information flow.

Citing how the mainstream international media has reported Climate Change, COVID-19, the Ukraine War and Israel’s War on Gaza, many participants also promoted the idea of a shared global recommitment to truthful and honest reporting.

Meanwhile, support for a new type of 21st Century Operation Truth is already gaining traction.

On February 13, while addressing the II Meeting of Theoretical Publications, Parties and Movements of the Left in Havana, Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canel said the January conference had “allowed for a comprehensive reflection on the enormous validity of the response action led by Fidel Castro at that time.”

According to Cuba’s leader, “In these times of social networks, of intensity in the media debate, of cultural colonization, we must find, in practice, the path of the great Operation Truth,” to also be shared by left and revolutionary forces worldwide.

President Diaz-Canel called for “development of an international movement, based on a new Operation Truth,” utilizing “the variety and comprehensiveness of political parties, political editorials, social and community movements.”

On January 29, Pope Francis II, Head of the Roman Catholic Church worldwide, also joined calls for new approaches to the old task of truthful ad honest reporting.

Addressing managers and employees of TV2000 and the inBlu2000 Catholic broadcasting networks (owned by the Italian Episcopal Conference) on the 25th anniversary of their foundation, the pope called on Catholic communicators to start “going against the flow…”

Pope Francis proclaimed they should also “continue to communicate the Church’s closeness to the most vulnerable and marginalised.”

He advised that “amid the vortex of technological innovation” in the new world of communication, information and artificial intelligence, “Catholic communicators must never lose sight of the fundamental mission of bringing the light of hope to the darkness that surrounds us.”

The pope quoted the words of Saint Francis de Sales – patron saint of journalists and writers – to call on his audience to work “with Closeness, Heart and Responsibility” and to “put in the foreground those who are on the margins of society” by “rejecting the dominant logic complacent to power that leads even to creating fake news.”

The pontiff invited Catholic writers and broadcasters to “Have the courage – from the heart – to go against the flow!”

But the president and the pope aren’t alone in recognising that the world is in fact being fed lies by those sacrificing and even erasing truth, in pursuit of national politics and geopolitical ambitions.

Tech billionaire Elon Musk and global investment advisor David Sachs have both also agreed that the world is being deliberately misled by the international media about the real situation in Ukraine.

On February 18, Sachs published a post on X (formerly Twitter) entitled “A War of Lies,” arguing that the Ukraine conflict is based on deliberate disinformation about “how it started, how it’s going, and how it will end.”

He also said citizens of Western countries are being told that “Ukraine is winning, when in fact it is losing”

Sachs said the world is being lied-to with the claim that Ukraine’s main problem is a lack of US war funding, while, in reality, it’s “the West (that) can’t produce enough ammunition.”

“Those distortions are prolonging the conflict,” Sachs said.

Asked to respond to Sachs’ article, Musk said it was “accurate…”

Mistreatment and misrepresentation of the truth in the international mainstream media’s reporting on the results of the wars in Ukraine and Gaza is also reflected in how most have thus-far covered the latest revival of the ages-old neighbourly quarrel between Guyana and Venezuela over the latter’s claim to the oil-rich Essequibo region—and which comprises two-thirds of Guyana.

The two nations’ presidents – Guyana’s Dr Irfaan Ali and Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro – met in St. Vincent & The Grenadines on December 14, 2023 at the behest of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC).

Under the chairmanship of host Prime Minister and CELAC President Dr Ralph Gonsalves, the two presidents agreed to explore and pursue peaceful approaches to solutions.

But while the quiet mediation talks continue in peace in Brazil, the usual suspects in the international media continue to highlight confrontational issues instead of recognizing the de-escalation of earlier tensions through active Latin American and Caribbean diplomacy.

Likewise, with the death of Russian dissident Alexy Navalny, with world leaders and the international press – within minutes – making definite claims and pointing accusing fingers, even before a post-mortem started.

Naysayers and pessimists claim it’s impossible to guarantee truthful and honest reporting in the current global context, but all signs and signals point to majorities in agreement that the current information flows are too imbalanced and support for the idea of a global commitment by journalists and media houses everywhere to Truth and Honesty in reporting.

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