Strength from faith, Rosary – American journalist Foley slain by IS

Photojournalist James Wright Foley who the US government confirmed has been executed by Islamic State captors had reportedly said his faith and praying the Rosary during captivity made him feel close to God and his family.

Stories about how their Catholic faith and the Rosary carried him and his family through agonizing days of his captivity spread after the the National Security Council announced on Aug. 19 that the U.S. intelligence community judged as authentic, a gruesome video of Foley’s beheading released Tuesday on social media by the Islamic State movement.

Read the full story of how faith and praying the Rosary gave Foley and his family strength in the face of death

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Vietnam priest, other Asians among 100 “information heroes”, Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders, (RWB) an organization that monitors attacks on journalists has cited a Vietnamese Catholic priest and other  Asians among 100 “information heroes” for standing up to powerful forces that suppress information and journalists.

Vietnamese Father Le Ngoc Thanh, a member of the Redemptorist congregation in Vietnam is a citizen-journalist who worked amid Communist government harassment.

In its citation, Reporters Without Borders noted that Father Anton le Ngoc Thanh is a journalist and a Catholic priest whose more than a decade of work for Vietnamese Redemporist News, a Catholic news organization, has caused him numerous problems with the Vietnamese authorities.

In 2012 he was stopped for questioning on his way to Bac Lieu in the south of the country, where a woman had set fire to herself in protestagainst her daughter, the blogger Ta Phong Tan, being put on trial. He was held for several hours for causing a traffic accident while travelling on foot.

He was arrested again last year during a demonstration in support of the blogger and activist Dinh Nhat Uy, convicted for organizing a campaign for the release of his jailed younger brother. Thanh is under constant police surveillance and is frequently prevented from covering and publicizing the human rights abuses that he has witnessed.

Cambodian Photojournalist and radio reporter Oudom Tat, is the youngest “hero” listed, and Muhammed Ziauddin, a Pakistani newspaper journalist for 45 years is the oldest.

Among the Asians, Iran, China, Azerbaijan, Vietnam are each represented by at least three heroes.

Some journalists cited work in democracies, while others, such as Jila Bani Yaghoob, who runs the Kanoon Zanan Irani (Centre for Iranian Women) website, work under “the most authoritarian regimes,” RWB’s announcement said.

Among women, Filipina Rowena Paraan, a journalist for 25 years now chairwoman of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines was cited for her role in the organization’s long-time journalists’ safety program. “This is a major issue in a country where 32 journalists were massacred in Ampatuan in Maguindanao province in November 2009, a scar on the national psyche which is unlikely to heal,” Paraan’s citation reads.

 

Titus Brandsma Awards 2013 Philippines , Part 1 : Red Batario

Congratulations, Red Batario: Titus Brandsma Awards  2013 Philippines  – for Leadership in Journalism

 

Red Batario accepted the Leadership in Journalism Award from Titus Brandsma Awards 2013 via Fr. Tjeu Timmermans, former Prior Provincial of the Dutch Carmelite Province and Carolina Malay, Journalist, editor, teacher and member of the Titus Brandsma Award Philippines Board. - Philippines Aug. 7, 2013. [NJ Viehland Photo]

Red Batario accepted the Leadership in Journalism Award from Titus Brandsma Awards 2013 via Fr. Tjeu Timmermans, former Prior Provincial of the Dutch Carmelite Province and Carolina Malay, Journalist, editor, teacher and member of the Titus Brandsma Award Philippines Board. – Philippines Aug. 7, 2013. [NJ Viehland Photo]

 

VICTOR REDMOND “RED” S. BATARIO is the Executive Director of the Center for Community Journalism and Development, Inc. (CCJD), a non-profit, non-stock organization that aims to support, encourage and help sustain efforts of journalists working with citizens, communities and institutions for social change.

Batario is also the representative for Asia of the London-based International News Safety Institute (INSI). The institute is a global network dedicated to the safety of journalists and media staff, and commited to fighting the persecution of journalists everywhere. It is a coalition of media organizations, groups working to uphold press freedom, unions and humanitarian campaigners working to create a culture of safety in media worldwide.

Titus Brandsma was a Dutch philosopher, professor, and Carmelite priest who was thrown in prisons during the Nazi occupation of Holland in the 1940s. While serving as the Church’s adviser to Catholic journalists in the Netherlands in 1935, he criticized anti-Jewish laws in his talks and writings, and wrote against publishing Nazi propaganda in Catholic publications, saying it was incompatible with Catholicism.

He reportedly suffered from beatings, hunger, hard labor and being used for medical research in Germany’s Dachau concentration camp from April 1942 until his executioner gave him lethal injection on July 26, 1942. Blessed John Paul II beatified him on Nov. 3, 1985, a year after the Church proclaimed him a martyr.

Titus Brandsma Award Philippines recognizes Filipino journalists and community media who best epitomize Blessed Titus’  life and principles. It also recognizes individuals and groups who have created an impact and influenced the fields of Leadership in Journalism, communication and culture and arts. “It honors the modern-day prophets and martyrs” for press freedom, Order of Carmelites Philippines Prior Provincial Fr. Christian Buenafe explained.

Fr. Christian "Toots" Buenafe, first Prior Provincial of the Carmelite Province of Blessed Titus Brandsma-Pilipinas welcomed awardees and guests to the 2013 Titus Brandsma Award Philippines ceremony and dinner at Titus Brandsma Center, Acacia Street, Quezon City on Aug. 7, 2013 - Photo by N.J. Viehland

Fr. Christian “Toots” Buenafe, first Prior Provincial of the Carmelite Province of Blessed Titus Brandsma-Pilipinas welcomed awardees and guests to the 2013 Titus Brandsma Award Philippines ceremony and dinner at Titus Brandsma Center, Acacia Street, Quezon City on Aug. 7, 2013 – Photo by N.J. Viehland

Following is the text of Batario’s acceptance speech during the awards ceremony last night at Titus Brandsma Center of the Order of Carmelites in Acacia Street, Quezon City…

News Agenda Setting…By the People 

When I was a reporter…back when I was still young and pretty…journalism was defined by the newsroom’s own agenda setting…which was to follow the old dictum that what bleeds…leads.

It didn’t help any that my newsroom baptism came during the Marcos years of martial regime…and that the newspaper I worked for was owned by a presidential crony.  It was the worst and best of times to be a journalist.  Worst in the sense that journalists learned oh so easily how to succumb to the blandishments and siren song of a despotic regime that was trying to project a benevolent image… and best in the sense that it also forced them to re-examine their….and journalism’s role….given the realities that confronted them every day.

That episode in my career taught me to think more clearly and deeply about journalism as a transformative tool….and reporting not simply as a means of relaying information but as a way of connecting with people.

Much later, I came across a thought-provoking article by Ervin S. Duggan, president of the US Public Broadcasting Service, on the workings and attitudes of the news media and I was struck by this passage: “The idea of journalists that the purpose of the story is the story itself invites a terrible kind of journalistic amorality…trying to do the story just for itself invites cynicism.  It doesn’t invite the kind of heroic approach to journalism at all.  It invites compromises and corruptions that deaden the enterprise at its heart.”

But what is at the heart of this journalistic cynicism? Is it because the rules that govern the news cycle no longer apply?  Is it because uncorroborated stories are now the norm?  Is it because journalism has become so competitive that the idea of stewardship, that we as journalists serve causes higher than ourselves no longer have an honorific cachet?  That the story has become expedient to the demand for speed?  Or is it symptomatic of an unraveling of the social fabric that the news media, wittingly or unwittingly, have contributed to?

These were some of the hard questions that…. a long time ago…in a galaxy seemingly so far, far away… prodded me and my partner, Girlie Sevilla Alvarez, to reexamine journalism both as craft and philosophy and whether it is contributing to the determination of democratic development in the Philippines. These were the very same questions that underscored the need to address the challenges faced by local communities and how journalism can provide them a roadmap to identifying problems and crafting solutions.

So it was not mere happenstance that allowed us to flesh out the concept and philosophy of public journalism as a way by which citizens can understand better the impact of the news on their lives, how journalism can provide opportunities for community debates to take place, and how they can actively participate in setting the news agenda. This is the thinking that guides us…this is the framework from which we proceed.

One of the lessons I learned in my work as a journalist over 30 years was that journalists are expert at agenda setting.  In his book Coming to Public Judgment, sociologist Daniel Yankelovich said, “we have so much fun with it that we dash around raising consciousness here, raising consciousness there, then rush on to raise consciousness somewhere else, leaving all previous crises unattended.”

We need to take pause not only to examine the gains and pains of our work, but to see where we are and where we are going.

Many of my colleagues who are in this room right now would agree with me that much still needs to be done to improve journalism practice….just as there is so much more that needs to be done to ensure the independence and safety of those who practice the craft….given the chillingly increasing number of journalists killed while trying to lift the veil of darkness in their communities.

I humbly accept the Titus Brandsma Award Philippines 2013 for Leadership in Journalism for the countless journalists…especially those from local communities…who gave up their lives so that we all could come closer to the truth….for those who continue to bravely shine the light on what others with devious intent would want to keep hidden…for all of us who believe that while journalism as a craft is challenging…it can also be edifying sanctifying.

Red Batario with partners in community journalism work, guests Rep Satur Ocampo, Carolina Malay, keynote speaker Prof Inigo MK Bocken PhD, Fr. Bernard Roosendaal, OCarm at Titus Brandsma Awards 2013 - Philippines ceremony. [NJ Viehland Photo]

Red Batario with partners in community journalism work, guests Rep Satur Ocampo, Carolina Malay, keynote speaker Prof Inigo MK Bocken PhD, Fr. Bernard Roosendaal, OCarm at Titus Brandsma Awards 2013 – Philippines ceremony. [NJ Viehland Photo]

On their behalf, I would like to say thank you most sincerely to the Board of the Titus Brandsma Award-Philippines…. the Philippine Province of the Order of Carmelites in the Philippines….Rev. Fr. Christian Buenafe…. my partner and my family who are my constant sources of inspiration…my friends and colleagues in media and civil society who have always been steadfast in shaping a better journalism landscape…and the Lord who has given me more blessings than I truly deserve.
My mother and father used to tell me: “In our time, journalism practice was good.”  When he was alive, my grandfather told me: “In my time, journalism was very good.”  Today I would like to be able to tell my grandchildren: “Journalism is so much better now.”END