Govekar, who spoke on the second day of the conference about the impact of images in communication, said Pope Francis is a prime example of how a picture can communicate more clearly than words.
She said whenever she looks at the Pope's social media accounts, particularly his Instagram "Franciscus" profile, the comments always say things like "I willingly listen to your words because of how you said them," or "I like to see your comments or a minute of your video because you always have this smile that captivates," or "Even if I don't understand your language, just the tone of your voice is consoling for me."
"Even before understanding what he is saying and what he is inviting us to, we see it. The image, the gesture, speaks before the words arrive," Govekar said, explaining that people don't need to conduct a study on the image to understand what's being communicated.
Helen Osman, president of SIGNIS, echoed Govekar's sentiments. With the rise of digital media, she said, information can be spread more quickly than ever before, but "the challenge is to provide quality material that people find useful and helpful in their lives."
Osman spoke to the conference about state of both secular and Catholic media in the United States, highlighting a decrease of trust in journalists. This, she said, is largely due to the fact that journalists are perceived to be out of touch with their audiences, and can also be attributed to social media being used to promote "yellow journalism."
"There's this growing acceptance or reference for conspiracy theories or concepts that aren't even factually accurate," Osman said, explaining that in her experience, she finds that this trend is often due to fear.
As Catholic journalists, "we know what answers those fears," she said, so "why are we not presenting that in a way that makes sense to people and helps them sort through this?"
Other speakers also noted that the Catholic media have not been exempt from the troubling trends plaguing modern journalism.
In his opening speech, Vigano observed that Catholic media are not only victims of fake news, "but we are also authors," even if unintentionally.
And sometimes, fake news is spread intentionally, when worldliness and the search for honor becomes a motivation, he said. "Fake news is often used to eliminate an enemy or, on the contrary but no worse, to valorize a person who may not have any human or professional maturity."
In her comments to CNA, Govekar warned that digital platforms can be a new and effective way to share the Gospel, but can also be misused to promote agendas under the guise of evangelization.
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Likewise, Osman – who in her speech said Catholic media in the U.S. at times tend to be overly apologetic and defensive in tone – said Catholic media can also fall victim to fake news and conspiracies.
"We're human, so yes we struggle with that," she said, adding that "it's not easy, it's not easy to hear someone say things or demonstrate beliefs that are in direct opposition to my beliefs."
She cautioned against the assumption that "anyone who disagrees with the Church is to be demonized or cast out, or at the very least not heard."
Pointing to the Pope's message for the World Day of Communications, Osman said Francis continues to challenge Catholics in this area, particularly on the need to listen and dialogue with others.
Communications, she said, "is about listening and about trying to understand the other person. So perhaps we can take off the lens that 'this is an attack on me' and instead focus on the other person and say, help me understand why you think this way."
To avoid fake news, "the first step is to lean in more, to listen more, and instead of feeling like we've got to counter every position or every new development."