By Robin Gomes
Catholic communicators in Asia have vowed to take up the challenge of helping expose the hidden agendas of mainstream media and build healthier communities by shunning “toxic messages."
Some 120 people from 19 countries gathered in the Indian capital, New Delhi, the Aug. 4-8, for the assembly of SIGNIS Asia, the regional wing of the global forum of Catholic audio-visual communicators.
The theme of their assembly was, “The Role of Media in Building Communities.”
In a final statement at the end of their meeting, they reaffirmed their mission and faith in social communication and resolved to engage in “building communities of peace, equality, inclusiveness, positivity and dignity”.
They acknowledged that “media has the power to inform, empower and build communities,” but it can “also divide communities through ‘toxic messages’ by vested interests and business centred media owners.”
To deal with this situation, they decided to “initiate a series of reflections” among SIGNIS members and the people through training programmes, video and radio productions, publications, film discussions and digital media”. These reflections aim to “identify the negative messages that divide people and to replace them with positive and futuristic messages with a focus on building communities.”
Participants also urged members to “move beyond the conventional paradigm of tolerance and begin to celebrate diversity” and become “wise and brave to counter fear with facts and truth.”
SIGNIS members vowed to be the “voice of the voiceless in the struggle for independence and freedom” by making people the centre of their actions to “restore dignity to all and power to the powerless.”
The assembly urged members to work for “solution-oriented journalism and enable people to come out of echo chambers where they keep listening only to their voices and not of others.”
They called upon young people to learn about the positive way to use social media in building communities.