We like journalists when they don’t criticize
Two cases of assaults on journalists in the space of a week. Examples of a growing intolerance for the function of the printed press
To attack from militants of the Five Stars Movement against journalists, that told of the two days of the movement of Beppe Grillo, there was another attack on the journalist of the TV show Piazza Pulita, Sara Judge, guilty of having conducted an investigation into the trafficking of waste in Rome.
The two episodes of varying severity, occurred within a week, and appear symptomatic of a growing intolerance towards the work of the press, and, above all, of its role.
It goes without saying that the criticisms are legitimate, but in the hands of the political leaders, namely those who have a higher responsibility to the public, the load is heavier. This does not mean of having to defend always and no matter what an entire category, which is indeed quite diverse, but it means to hold up responsibility standards: to defend journalists means to defend their function.
Too many times we have seen opposition forces ‘sanctify’ the work of certain press operators, and then, once they become government forces, turn ready to blame, if not insult, the accused journalists of ‘playing along the powers-that-be’ . It is, in fact, obvious and natural that the press should especially urge those who govern, or at least those who have a role not really marginal in the management of local or national policy affairs.
Without disturbing the role and function of the press in Anglo-Saxon countries, it should be obvious that journalists should ‘verify’, ask questions and even bring out contradictions that would not otherwise be perceived by citizens.
And that is why it is not tolerable to finger to the public opinion as ‘mercenary’ those journalists who do nothing more than their duty: it would be enough to remember the daily column ‘the journalistof the day’ that on the blog of Beppe Grillo took aim on journalists who, at the discretion of the movement, became protagonists of articles contrary to the movement itself.
And it is quite wrong, and deeply so, if you believe that the role of the free press can be completely replaced by the World Wide Web: How many news outlets, blogs, and web sites are characterized by the divulgation of news often totally false, or, at times, completely counterfeited? And, above all, what guarantee of professionalism, competence and ethics, can be found in the hands of these ‘outlets’?
This is not an unconditional defense of the press, which today has many limits and is sometimes quite close to power, but it is a strenuous defence of a principle. A principle that in times when all you claim to be staunch defenders of the Constitution, appears a bit forgotten.