When printing is deployed on the front lines, the organized crime is afraid of it as it is afraid of the police action and of the judgment of the judiciary. These words were uttered by Pietro Grasso, who opened the conference “information tools for legality” organized by Fiege and Fcp and hosted last Thursday by the majestic rooms of Palazzo Giustiniani in Rome. A strong comparison between newspapers and law, that supports a category too often regarded with suspicion by the audience. The populist tendencies on the one hand and the unforgivable mistakes and some journalists’ winks to politics on the other have transformed, in the collective consciousness, “the watchdog of society” into a docile poodle dog and the “fourth estate” into a prosthesis of the ruling class. It is not so, it must be said. Because for a person who makes a mistake there are many others who do their job honestly and diligently every day, telling, researching, slamming in the faces of citizens dramas, robberies and injustices. Men and women who have developed and put at risk every day their life and career, too many times losing them. And in the fight against organized crime and corruption the press can play a decisive role. Because, as pointed out by the President of the Senate, the media very often “arrive first” compared with judges and law enforcement, facilitating, among other things, their work. “Even in the matter of corruption – the former anti-Mafia prosecutor said – the role of newspapers is important: often the reporters are the ones discovering irregularities in the announcements or in the tailoring of some of them. The investigative reports spotlight the scandals, becoming the basis for subsequent investigations”.
Raffaele Cantone then resumed these considerations in his subsequent intervention. “True democracy – the President of ANAC said – is based on the widespread control, but to be effective, control needs correct and complete information. The latest laws, the one about transparency for example, made us make a great step forward. Transparency is the real way to fight corruption, it feeds Civic Control, and the greatest transparency is the one that comes from information”. But the press, to perform its task at its best, must itself operate within the law, avoiding excesses and shouted news. So now the big challenge for the information is also to “establish rules and limits”. In this regard interceptions are the hot topic at the moment. “Citizens cannot be uninformed about the investigation – Cantone explained – but often some interceptions are not useful for the investigation, and there you have to establish limits; if a strict professional ethics worked, law would be meaningless. The legislator will still have to make a difficult choice, decide where the freedom of information ends, and where the right to privacy begins”.
But in today’s world, information has also another problem to face. The web has reached levels that were unimaginable a few years ago, and people use it every day to know what happens outside the walls of their house. Yet in the transition from paper to Internet we inevitably lost something. Once, the news were selected and written by professionals. Today the filter of traditional media has fallen through, with the result that each individual can, in his own way, intervene in the network. But between blogs, social media and and all that jazz, the risk of bumping into hoaxes and lies is high. “We must prevent – Cantone noticed – Internet from becoming an opportunity to launch campaigns of hatred and slime”. Or damaging the image of others indefinitely and perpetually. And from this point of view it was important to acknowledge right to oblivion, that allows to remove articles with potentially or actually damaging contents.
The good side of the network is that its capillarity allows everyone to be informed, fulfilling a fundamental human right recognized also by the UN and the Council of Europe. But to make it possible it is necessary to remove some obstacles, starting from the digital divide. That is the existence in different geographical areas of cultural and infrastructural boundaries, as responsible AGCOM Antonio Preto explained, which preclude the web accessibility. One thing must be understood: a society not sufficiently aware of what happens around it, is a weak society, easy to subjucate and therefore not free. “Institutions have the duty to solve this problem – Preto said – although things have improved we still are the Europe’s tail light. It is a matter of freedom, political freedom. Democracy and information are interdependent “. Reclamation of the press role, regulation of new communication platforms and reduction of the digital divide – these are therefore the next goals of the media. Always keeping in mind what Hegel said: “To read the newspaper is the modern man’s morning-prayer”.
Translation provided by Maria Rosaria Mastropaolo