“Cultivate spirit of listening” to Deliver Balanced Stories: Zambian Bishop to Journalists

Screengrab of Bishop Valentine Kalumba delivering a message ahead of 56th World Communications Day (WCD). Credit: Lumen TV

A Catholic Bishop in Zambia has called on journalists to nurture the art of listening if they are to deliver stories to their respective audiences.

In a Tuesday, May 24 video recording, which Lumen TV Zambia posted on Facebook ahead of 56th World Communications Day (WCD), the Bishop at the helm of the Commission for Communications of the Zambia Conference of Catholic Bishops (ZCCB) challenges journalists to “know how to listen”, adding that “there is no good journalism without the ability to listen.” 

“To those of you who work in the public media, I encourage you to cultivate the spirit of listening. This will enable you to provide solid, balanced and complete information,” Bishop Valentine Kalumba says in the video recording ahead this year’s WCD to be marked on May 29 under the theme, “Listening with the ear of the heart”.

Bishop Kalumba continues to reflect on the WCD 2022 theme saying, “In order to provide solid, balanced and complete information, it is necessary to listen for a long time, recount an event, or describe an experience in news reporting.”

In the Lumen TV-Z Facebook video, the Zambian-born member of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI) shares about connection between listening and dialogue in the process of communication and underscores the value of listening in the practice of journalism.


He says, “Listening is the first indispensable ingredient of dialogue and good communication. Communication does not take place if listening has not taken place first, and there is no good journalism without the ability to listen.”

Failure to pay attention to what others say often leads to aggression, Bishop Kalumba says, and adds that by paying attention to other speakers and what they say, journalists can improve their communication skills. 

To develop the spirit of listening, the Catholic Bishop who has been at the helm of Zambia’s Livingstone Diocese since his Episcopal Ordination in September 2016 challenges journalists to examine their assumptions and perceptions of reality before publishing anything.

It is essential to know how to listen, to be ready to change one's mind and to modify one’s initial assumptions,” the 55-year-old Zambian Bishop says ahead of the annual event that Pope Paul VI established in 1967 to provide an opportunity to reflect on the challenges and opportunities of modern means of communication.

“Genuine dialogue and good communication demand that we listen to one another,” he reiterates, and goes on to cite the Holy Father’s Message for WCD 2022 saying, “Pope Francis says, we should listen with ears of God so that we may speak the will of God.”

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While listening does not imply uniformity or conformity of voices, the Catholic Bishop says that paying attention to what others say “allows a wide range of voices to respond to harmony and unity of purpose.” 

"The art of listening is not a theory or a technique but the openness of hearts that makes closeness possible. The heart is the genuine seed of listening," the Bishop Director of the Commission for Communications of the ZCCB says in the video recording published May 24.

Magdalene Kahiu is a Kenyan journalist with passion in Church communication. She holds a Degree in Social Communications from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa (CUEA). Currently, she works as a journalist for ACI Africa.