Unable to Speak the Language

Journalist-Priest Notes Problems in Reporting About Religion

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By H. Sergio Mora

ROME, FEB. 1, 2012 (Zenit.org).- People in the media face a common problem, namely, language. And when it comes to reporting on religion, they have a duty to learn the language and use it correctly.

This was a reflection shared with ZENIT by Father Giuseppe Costa, director of the Vatican’s publishing house, Libreria Editrice Vaticana.

He was speaking last Friday at a debate on publishing, media and religion held at Rome’s Paul VI International Bookstore. Participating in the debate were Giovanna Chirri of ANSA News Agency; Salvatore Mazza, of the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire; and Enzo Romero, director of Tg2 television news. The moderator was Neria De Giovanni.

Father Costa’s 2009 book was the springboard for the discussion.

«I have always worked in religious journalism, and I have taught this subject at university,» the priest told us, speaking a little about his history in the press.

His book, «Editoria, media e religione,» he said «was born from the awareness that there is a common problem shared by all the media, namely, language. Whoever deals with religious information has the duty to know the language and must adapt it according to the means he uses.»

Language «is the key problem for religious information. So many mistakes and stereotypes are made because one does not keep to the language. And the language means: history, culture, philosophy, theology, etc.»

«There is much superficiality, there are those who think they can give religious information by relying on summary judgments,» he lamented.

Father Costa has written another book, «Giornalismo religioso, storia metodo, e testi,» on 50 years of religious journalism in Italy, which sold out and will be re-edited and released in the coming months.

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