Emotions in Journalism? Kenyan Catholic Archbishop’s Tips on How Journalists Can Spur Spiritual Conversion

Emotions are not entirely a bad thing in journalism especially if they lead to deep spiritual reflection and conversion, Catholic journalists in Kenya have been told.

Speaking to Catholic journalists in Kenya at their ongoing workshop in Nairobi, Archbishop Anthony Muheria urged the participants to package their content in a way that it touches the hearts of their respective audiences.

Archbishop Muheria reminded the Catholic journalists that they now operate in a space that has shifted from communicating facts to opinions and emotions.

“There is a shift in media from the dissemination of information to the dissemination of emotions. Journalism used to be about facts. Now, people no longer want to just know. They also want to feel,” the Local Ordinary of Kenya’s Catholic Archdiocese of Nyeri who was recently elected Vice Chairman of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) said.

Underlining the need for Catholic journalists to make good use of emotions, which he also described as “pathos”, Archbishop Muheria said, “We must train our voices to carry the feel and power of what we are saying. In radio for instance, pauses are such an effective tool to communicate emotions.”


The Kenyan-born member of Opus Dei, who is the immediate former Chairman of KCCB’s Commission for Social Communications told Catholic journalists to always include “something that moves the person” in their reporting.

“We must sell feelings and values that lead to love and spiritual reflection on how we relate with each other. Relationships are about feelings within. What we communicate must be packaged in a way that it touches the heart,” he said.

The Catholic Church leader however cautioned Catholic communicators against selling “raw emotions.” 

“Feelings without any spiritual base are absolutely empty. We must communicate to the head and to the heart; and combine the two. Our faith must be something worth dying for,” he emphasized in his April 23 input at The Radix Hotel in Karen, Nairobi.

Archbishop Muheria said that secular media are not a good example of how to employ emotions in reporting as they always try to elicit anger for their stories to sell.

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He said some secular media use gruesome photos that only shock their audiences. “In a story about abuse, some media houses go into details that make the audience hate the aggressor. As Catholic communicators and journalists, we do not go for such emotions,” he cautioned.

According to the Local Ordinary of Nyeri Archdiocese, who doubles as the Apostolic Administrator of Kenya’s Catholic Diocese of Embu since his appointment in September 2023, headlines these days seek to provoke emotions.

This can be seen in the way in which media houses invest more in talk shows than in hard news gathering, he said.

“Thirty years ago, there were no talk shows. Today, a bigger percentage of radio and TV content is talk shows. It is no longer about facts. It is about opinions seeking to evoke emotions. The more emotional they talk, the more the listenership and the commitment,” the Kenyan Archbishop, who will turn 61 on May 27 said.

“As Catholic journalists, we must not be a player in instigating emotions by manipulation. But your messages must also not be flat. One of the best ways to communicate feelings is through stories. Stories, especially of people, touch hearts,” he said.


In his April 23 input, Archbishop Muheria also reminded Catholic journalists in Kenya to embrace the new shifts in the media in order to remain relevant in the fast-paced media space.

“Things are happening so fast that we must constantly need empowerment,” he said, and explained, “We are in a moment of transition. The transition has been a parabolic curve that is rising very fast in more recent times. If we can’t match this fast pace, we are going to be left behind in so many things.”

“It is important that as Catholic journalists we understand what space we are operating in. This will in turn inform us who our target audience is. Those in radio will know who is listening to them, and how to change the listenership. Our radios must find ways to interact with the youth,” Archbishop Muheria said.

The Catholic Church leader, who started his Episcopal Ministry in January 2004 as Bishop of Embu Diocese noted that effective communication for Catholic journalists means rediscovering new avenues for communication that “travel to the mind and heart of the target audience.”

The workshop, “Empowering Catholic Journalists in Environmental Advocacy”, was organized by KCCB’s Commission for Social Communications to equip Catholic journalists with skills to resonate with, and therefore communicate effectively, issues about the environment.

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Speakers at the workshop are addressing a wide range of topics including the basics of environmental journalisms within the Kenyan context, Catholic Social Teachings, and the care of our common home  (Laudato Si’), Church documents on the environment and their implications to journalists, among others.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.