On Saturday, November 11, 2018, the SSVP of Italy organized, in Turin, a video conference entitled “Charity and Social Media” which was attended by 300 people, in the auditorium of the Industrial Union of Torino. The round table was moderated by the SSVP member Alessandro Ginotta. From Brazil, the 16th General President of the SSVP, Renato Lima, participated. You can read Renato’s speech below.
Dear Vincentian Friends of Italy,
It is with great joy that I participate, this afternoon, in this important event organized by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Italy, to reflect critically about the relationship between “Charity” and “Media.”
The International Council General (CGI), of which I am the 16th President General, not only congratulates the Vincentians of Italy for this brilliant initiative, but also encourages other Superior Councils to do the same in their countries.
This is a subject I have great fondness for because of two reasons. The first reason is obvious; we are an international organization dedicated to charity! The second reason is professional; I am a Journalist and have been active in the communications market since I left University in 1991.
Nowadays, with the advancement of social media, it has never been so timely to talk about the media and to reflect on their impact on the daily lives of people, governments and institutions.
The world has changed, and the media has changed with it. The daily reading of newspapers has given way to posts on social media, changing the way people get informed.
There is also the phenomenon of “fake news” that confuses readers and disqualifies reliable sources, since everyone is capable of being informed. You have to be careful with this new world, where information is not always true.
The Vincentian Councils should be prepared to develop actions that improve internal communication and external communication. The news of the Conferences must be known, and the decisions of the Councils must be diffused. This can only happen if the communication flows correctly.
How are social institutions, such as ours, in these modern times?
We live a historical dilemma, which is the issue of advertising our charitable acts. We can never use the media to promote or advertise our deeds. Only God must look to our charity for the suffering people. However, we must know how to publicize our works and thus, get more supporters for the Vincentian cause. It is a dilemma and, above all, a fine line between “undue promotion” and “necessary information that must be propagated.”
Therefore, this new world demands of us, Vincentians, a modern attitude to interact with the media, without exposing the image of the people assisted, while at the same time use all means of communication to spread our charisma, recruit new members and enlist more financial support.
It is not an easy task, but it must be pursued. We must use the media responsibly in the defense of social justice and in protecting the rights of vulnerable people. In the same way, we are urged to take advantage of the tools of modernity for the poor. Ozanam and Saint Vincent, certainly, if they were physically among us, today, would be worried about this theme.
Before closing, I would like to announce that in 2018, the International Council General will be launching a new website and a new institutional video. We will also continue in our policy of transparency with Ozanam TV broadcasting meetings of the General Council and other international events. With God, we will make great progress in the international Vincentian communication area.
In closing, I once again offer my sincere congratulations to the National Council of the Italian Federation for the initiative of carrying out this dialogue between “charity” and “media.”
God bless us!
Renato Lima16th President General