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Holy See
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SPECIAL: ZENIT on the Ground in Amman, Jordan

ZENIT is on the ground in Jordan.

Zenit English’s Senior Vatican Correspondent, Deborah Castellano Lubov, is there to speak at and participate in the international conference titled, “Media and their Role in Defending the Truth in Amman.” The encounter is being organized by the Catholic Center for Studies and Media in Jordan and the Council of Catholic Patriarchs of the East.

Pope Francis visited Jordan, home to the site of Jesus’ Baptism, during his 2014 visit to the Holy Land, along with his predecessors Benedict XVI in 2009 and John Paul II in 2000.

The Muslim-majority nation, where Catholics, make up less than 1 percent, is known as a peaceful country of coexistence among religions and peoples and tranquility.

At the encounter, various patriarchs, prelates, and religious and government leaders are partaking, from throughout the Middle East. From the Vatican, also speaking at participating is the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communications’ Editorial Director, Andrea Tornielli, and the Director of Vatican Radio’s Arabic Section, Father Jean-Pierre Yamin.

Deborah Castellano Lubov is speaking at today’s panel: Media and Truth what is the relationship.

According to the UNHCR (The UN Refugee Agency), as of January 2019, Jordan, situated between Syria, Iraq, Israel and Saudi Arabia, has welcomed some 762,460 refugees living within its borders.

There are 57 refugee nationalities living in Jordan, 83 percent of whom, living in rural areas. Seventeen percent of the refugees live in the camps of Zaatari, Azraq and Emirati Jordanian Camp.

At the opening session this morning, Andrea Tornielli, spoke about Vatican reform, the importance of having free and truthful press, and Pope Francis’ appreciation for media.

Lamenting those who participate in toxic debates online, on blogs and social media, he noted: “We shouldn’t respond to attacks made in bad faith, because we put ourselves on same level as them. Instead we are to share the good news.”

The Director of the Catholic Center for Catholic Studies and Media in Jordan, Father Rifat Bader, giving the introductory remarks, told about the Code of Ethics that was being circulated, in Arabic, and would be signed at this encounter.

Pope Francis, he recalled, called for media freedom and condemned fake news, even observing that the first fake news was when the devil, posing as a serpent, told Eve lies in the Garden of Eden.

Father Rifat emphasized how useful media is, but stressed how important it is to differentiate and distinguish news properly, in order to help our young and all people “be able to know how to use the news and do so responsibly.”

Dr. Mohammed Dawoudiyeh, chief of the board of directors of Ad-Dustour newspaper, noted this code essentially constitutes “guidelines, or a ‘roadmap,’ that if we follow faithfully, we can avoid harm and ‘fake news.’

“We need to avoid fake news, which is a disaster,” he said.

Journalist Giselle Khoury spoke about her experience, in particular at the BBC, while Nidhal Mansour, director of the Center for the Protection of Journalists, asked: “What is next after Facebook and Twitter?”

Noting the rapid evolution of new platforms and even expectations for journalists, he noted: Ten or 15 years ago, we never could have imagined all the platforms we have now.”

“Nowadays, if a journalist thinks, I just write an article, without knowing how to handle social media, editing and so on, he or she is out of a job.”

Speaking on autonomy, he acknowledged, “It is not about being bought or owned by someone, by an institution or government, the question is: Do we have an independent journalist.”

The panelists unanimously agreed that having credibility is everything.

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