By Paul Samasumo and Vatican News staff
The three-day SIGNIS World Congress in Seoul, South Korea, has come to a close, with Catholic media practitioners pledging not to just report on events as they happen but to engage actively in supporting stories that enhance peace.
Before the close of the SIGNIS World Congress, Russia's Dmitry Muratov made a passionate appeal for media freedom and for journalists across the world to resist state repression and state-sponsored propaganda. Muratov is the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. He addressed the SIGNIS World Congress via zoom link.
According to Muratov, propaganda narratives aim to normalize atrocities that states commit or intend to commit. Media outlets not supporting the government line are harassed, demonized, and branded as traitors. Sometimes journalists are thrown into jail.
Achieving peace in the digital world
With the conclusion of the SIGNIS World Congress, Catholic media practitioners also adopted a statement recognizing their own crucial role in building a peaceful society. They have pledged to elevate in creative ways stories that promote justice, equity, and ecological conversion.
Participants said they left the Congress “with new insights, awareness, and resolves,” adding that they had found “a great deal to reflect on.”
They noted the “digital divide between rich and poor,” and that a hyper-connected population is challenged with disconnections that lead to isolation, confusion, and hopelessness.” They also recognized the “devastating effect of fake news on contemporary society.”
At the same time, the statement saw a need “to move from individual engagement to community building,” as well as a need “to weave the web with truth and beauty of faith and hope.”
“We believe that it is possible to build a new society by creating awareness that inspires us to work together in peace with people of different cultures, beliefs, religions, and ideologies.”
Participants also affirmed a “genuine interest in marginalized persons,” which involves communicating “true and meaningful information to promote their struggles.”
The statement also called on “media practitioners and citizens to take action to protect the human rights of civilians caught up in war and conflict zones,” encouraging journalists not just to report facts, but to support victims of war and work toward conflict resolutions.”
Finally, those taking part in the Congress expressed their appreciation for young people involved in peace-building, and issued an invitation to youth around the world “to join hands with us in peace-building processes.”
“We feel we leave this Congress spiritually and professionally enriched. We believe that through the renewing power of the Holy Spirit we can achieve peace in the digital world.”
A powerful reflection
Among those taking part in the Congress was Dr Paolo Ruffini, Prefect of the Dicastery for Communication.
As the Congress drew to a close, Dr Ruffini said the event offered a “very powerful” reflection on the future and assessment of the past. He noted especially the enthusiasm of young people “in terms of how many things we can do in the future to be a sign of contradiction in the world,” to try to convert the field of communication – too often confused by fake news and hate speech – to try to seek goodness and truth, and share that with others.
This can only be successful, he said, “if we don’t build a ‘bureaucracy of communicators,” if the Church does not see itself as an institution that permission is required to enter. Instead, Ruffini said, it is necessary to build a network “that is a service,” valuing the commitment of all, “a network of sharing love.”
Then, he said, “we will be capable, little by little” to be a “sign of contradiction, building peace, as this Congress challenged us, in combatting fake news, in regenerating a world that needs to be regenerated, going to the roots of Christianity, to the Gospel.
The success story of Korean pop culture
Also before the close of the SIGNIS Congress, K-Pop or Korean popular music producers were happy to share with SIGNIS delegates the amazing success story of Korean pop culture.
In just a few years, K-pop music, Korean soap operas, and Korean films have become a global industry amassing millions of dollars each year.
The whole K-pop phenomenon has an elaborate promotional and marketing strategy that ranges from social media use to armies of fan clubs across the globe. In their own words, K-pop producers liken what they do to a factory producing cosmetics. In the factory, cosmetics are made, but in the shop, one is not buying cosmetics but, a lifestyle.
A photo gallery of the Congress is available here.
If you would like to watch the entire event, you can do so by viewing the videos below: