The Vatican’s Pope Francis has strived to be a voice of peace and unity on a continent struggling to deal with a refugee crisis. On Thursday he spoke out once again, this time against mass media, which he says has the power to shape the public’s response to that challenge.
During an address to Italy’s national journalism guild, Pope Francis told leaders of the industry that the press has the power to act like “terrorists” when it relies on gossip and rumors, particularly while covering humanitarian crises such as Europe’s influx of migrants. Yet while studies show that the press can help shape public dialogue, some experts say that the public opinion also plays a major role in shaping the tone that is reflected in the press.
“The bottom line is that there is a complex interaction between media, public opinion, and policymaking. To some extent, they’re indistinguishable from one another,” says Oxford University media analyst Robert McNeil. “They all drive one another.”