"That news may be good or bad, true or false," he said, recalling how early Christians compared the human mind to a "constantly grinding millstone." In this image, it is up to the miller to decide what grind: "good wheat or worthless weeds."
For those who are constantly "grinding out information" in their personal and professional lives, it's important to engage in "constructive forms of communication that reject prejudice toward others and foster a culture of encounter," he said, adding that this will help everyone "to view the world around us with realism and trust."
When it comes to reporting the good news rather than always focusing on the bad, Francis said we have to change the lens thought which we view reality. For Christians, he said, this above all means viewing reality through the lens of "the Good News par excellence: the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Son of God."
"This good news – Jesus himself – is not good because it has nothing to do with suffering, but rather because suffering itself becomes part of a bigger picture," he said, noting that this suffering is "an integral part of Jesus' love for the Father and for all mankind."
With Christ, "even darkness and death become a point of encounter with light and life," he said, adding that from here a hope "accessible to everyone" is born and "does not disappoint," since from this hope God's enters our hearts.
"Seen in this light, every new tragedy that occurs in the world's history can also become a setting for good news, inasmuch as love can find a way to draw near and to raise up sympathetic hearts, resolute faces and hands ready to build anew," he said.
Pope Francis then used Jesus' Ascension into heaven as an example of what our hope is based on, saying that even though the Lord might appear distant at the moment, "the horizons of hope expand all the more."
With the help and power of the Holy Spirit, we can become both "witnesses and communicators" of a renewed and redeemed humanity throughout the world, he said.
Confidence in "the seed of God's Kingdom" spread throughout the world ought also shape the way we communicate, he said, adding that this confidence allows everyone in the communications field to carry out their work with the conviction "that it is possible to recognize and highlight the good news present in every story and in the face of each person."
In a Jan. 24 news briefing for the publication of the Pope's message, Msgr. Dario Eduardo Vigano, Prefect of the Vatican's Secretariat for Communications, stressed the importance of having "constructive communication," that leans neither toward scandal nor optimism, but is realistic.
It's important to not "make evil the protagonist," even when reporting on tragic events, he said, and also warned journalists to steer clear of hypocrisy, which he called an "impure gaze" of reality that "impedes charity."
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Also present at the briefing was Delia Gallagher, Vatican correspondent for CNN, who said the Pope's document was "an opportune message" that's important for news agencies to keep in mind.
She focused specifically on the need to be accurate when reporting the news, saying one "can't be a good journalist if they are not certain of the facts."
Pope Francis' message provides a path "if not of truth, precision – to give the news accurately," she said, and used the Pope himself and how he is often reported as an example.
While it's not always easy to convey his message due to translations and a variety of other challenges, it's important to stick to the facts and "to give the context when he says something," rather than just reporting on snippet of what he said without offering the reader the full picture.
"It's a job that seems easy, but requires experience," she said, encouraging her colleagues to be accurate and precise, adding that "from the good news can also come from this."
Elise Harris was senior Rome correspondent for CNA from 2012 to 2018.