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Report: Truth Telling and the Media conference

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A recent conference in Oxford, organised by the Las Casas Institute at Blackfriars Hall, sought to examine the challenges of truth-telling in a world of rapidly breaking news stories and mass participation via social media.

Fr Simon Gaine OP first addressed the conference by asking: Do the modern media conceal or reveal truth? Do they tell our story in a helpful or unhelpful way? What can the media teach the Church?

Addressing the conference by video as he was visiting Syria, Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP explained how the conference furthered the mission of the Las Casas Institute to be a place of encounter and collaboration between those who experience and observe injustice and others who reflect on solutions to that injustice.

Professor Nicholas Boyle looked at how the mass media is abused by the internet troll and the terrorist. By hiding behind the keyboard, the internet troll fears only words being returned in retaliation whereas the terrorist exploits the illusion of global knowledge by offering real violence whose threat resounds through the structures of the mass media. Both trolls and terrorists, Boyle explained, exist free of the economy, state, and society as triply detached individuals, as Hobbesian pre-social humans.

Tim Livesy (standing in for Edward Hadas) argued that news content is often rushed to provide speedy delivery to viewers/readers, resulting in the truth being sacrificed to meet deadlines, which is unattainable. The Gospel, conversely, calls us to a higher standard of truth than we would naturally choose for ourselves. The truth is painful, it is never thin or glib, and cannot be rushed.

Fr Richard Finn OP concluded the day by asking reflective questions about truth through faith: How can we remind ourselves that the perspective of faith has to knit together all the partial stories we encounter? How can we cross the divisions between the different stories, the different media by which the stories are communicated and the stories of those media?

Please visit the Las Casas Institute website for a fuller report and more information.

Videos of the event can be viewed here.

Selected pictures are shown below, with more viewable here.


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