by Chuck Weber
Mother Catholic Church is intensely interested in the health of journalism.
From Pope Francis’ interviews aboard jetliners to legislation unfolding at the Kansas Capitol, the common good for Catholics and everyone else is better served when journalists serve as trusted scribes of current events.
As a former journalist who covered the Kansas Legislature full time, it pains me to witness the daily disintegration of credible journalism. Today’s news media — and I speak here of the “legacy media” like the Kansas City Star, the Topeka Capitol Journal and certain TV news operations — is corrupt and troubled.
Not that reporters accept bribes. Corrupt in the systemic sense. Their goal is not to serve as sources of the truth, but as tools of a predetermined narrative almost always conflicting with Catholic Church teaching and societal norms.
The news industry is failing to do what it claims to do, what it should do and what society expects it to do. It’s no wonder a Gallup poll released in July reveals that only 18% of Americans have “a great deal” or “quite a lot of trust” in newspapers.
The following are a few examples among many.
Pregnancy termination, or simply the act of abortion, is now consistently referred to using the abortion industry’s terms: “abortion care” or “reproductive care.” Pregnancy resource centers are suddenly now “anti-abortion centers.” The surgical and/or medical manipulation or mutilation of healthy bodies is now “gender-affirming care.” Opposition to these policies is “hate.”
Catholics should be concerned because the news media’s focus on these and other facades has several consequences. News can change perceptions, and perceptions often become reality.
When the “Value Them Both” amendment failed last year, it effectively closed the door on pro-life laws restricting abortion. Yet the news media narrative arbitrarily and falsely labels policy efforts to provide information or care to women in unplanned pregnancies as “anti-abortion” when they are not.
Public policy efforts by the Kansas Catholic Church are guided by the Catholic bishops and executed at the statehouse by the office of the Kansas Catholic Conference. We will continue to persevere and focus on defending and protecting preborn life, women, the integrity of the family and religious liberty — among a myriad of other issues.
In a remarkably compact synthesis, the Catechism of the Catholic Church offers this compelling guidance:
“By the very nature of their profession, journalists have an obligation to serve the truth and not offend against charity in disseminating information. They should strive to respect, with equal care, (emphasis added) the nature of the facts and the limits of critical judgment concerning individuals” (2497).
We seek and deserve journalists who serve as authentic gatekeepers and watchdogs of government and culture.