The Ossigeno panel in the high school Margherita di Savoia in Rome
It was delivered on February 24, 2017. The memory of journalists killed for their work and the problems of today’s reporters. Questions and answers
Ossigeno per l’Informazione delivered to the High School of Human, Linguistic and Socio-economic Sciences “Regina Margherita” in Rome the Panel of Memory “They were looking for the Truth – Twenty-eight names one story”, which recalls the names and faces of the twenty-eight Italian journalists killed because of their work.
The meeting was attended by the students of the 11th and 12th grades, accompanied by their teachers. “Our panel of Memory- the Secretary of Ossigeno, Giuseppe Federico Mennella said – wants to be a constant reminder of the importance of free information, a principle guaranteed by the Constitution. Let us remember the mistakes and tragedies of the past to avoid repeating them.”
The stories of the twenty-eight journalists killed between 1960 and 2014, by the mafia or terrorism, or even in war zones, were an opportunity to retrace, in the broader context of the history of civil liberties, Italy’s path and its changes since the last century. In this framework, the role and figure of the journalist have been analysed, linked to the overall democratic development of the country, despite the Italian historical and cultural limits.
Students were shown data on the most serious violations of press freedom and freedom of expression as collected by the Centre with its daily monitoring. The numbers show that, over time, the kinds of threats have changed and that more often today the intimidating powers are those from politics, public administration, and business.
The figures provided by Ossigeno – broken down by region and type of threat – have aroused the interest and concern of the students. There were numerous questions on the current state of information provided in Italy and the difficulties of those who express opinions and those who publish news unwelcome to the powerful. To overcome this serious situation, Mennella said, it is necessary to change some restrictive laws and, in order to achieve this, it is necessary to promote among citizens, especially among the young, awareness of their rights and knowledge of the right to be informed correctly. The thousands of unfounded complaints that are brought forward every year and that are documented by Ossigeno in the dossier “Shut up or I’ll sue you!” (read), a controversial report on information and Justice, aroused great attention. There was also a discussion on the reporters under police protection, on the threats and acts of violence against media workers, on the reckless lawsuits filed to silence journalists, who wait years to be acquitted, on the disproportionate prison term sentences, on the expenses that the innocent must incur to defend themselves in court from charges of libel.
After the meeting, one student has placed emphasis on the issue of solidarity: “I do not understand – he said – why public opinion supports only to the most important journalists and not to all of them.”