Pope Francis paid tribute on Saturday to journalists killed while doing their jobs, saying media freedom is a key indicator of a country’s health.
In an address to the Foreign Press Association in Italy, he urged journalists to shun fake news and continue reporting on the plight of people who no longer make headlines but are still suffering, specifically mentioning the Rohingya and Yazidi.
“I listened in pain to the statistics about your colleagues killed while carrying out their work with courage and dedication in so many countries to report on what is happening in wars and other dramatic situations in which so many of our brothers and sisters in the world live,” he said.
Francis had just heard the association’s president, Patricia Thomas of Associated Press Television, talk about journalists killed, imprisoned, wounded or threatened in their line of work.
She mentioned Lyra Mckee, who was shot dead while covering a riot in Northern Ireland, Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, who died in a car bomb in 2017, and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, killed in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul last year.
“Freedom of the press and of expression is an important indicator of the state of a country’s health,” the pope said. “Let’s not forget that one of the first things dictatorships do is remove freedom of the press or mask it, not leaving it free.”