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Mattarella: Free press is a thermometer of democracy

At the annual Ceremony of the Ventaglio, the Head of State defined information as one of the main democratic countermeasures to the action of power

The President of the Republic, Sergio Mattarella, reserved for freedom of the press and the role of information the introduction of the speech held on July 26 at the Quirinale, during the meeting with journalists for the traditional Ventaglio ceremony. The Head of State began by recalling “the importance of a free press, its ability to analyse and its role as a thermometer of democracy in our country as in others, where it is, on the other hand, limited and alarms arise from possible authoritative involvements.”

Mattarella then insisted on the relationship between democracy and journalism: “Sometimes, here and there, there seems to be some fascination for strong power. The term ‘illiberal democracy’ has also been coined, with a singular contradiction of terms. Democracy – said the President – is identified with freedom, and does not end in the crucial moment of general elections. These must be truly free, but they must be supplemented by other elements: the distribution of power functions between different bodies, their balance, counterweights which, among them, is the free press as one of the most important”.

Shortly afterward, Mattarella addressed the issue of the digital revolution “which entails a strong change in the information landscape, both in terms of fruition and production, extending to a fairly large number of subjects both the fruition and the formation of news. This phenomenon opens up many problems and reflections. It is no coincidence that the phenomenon of fake-news, as Norman Mailer called them, exploded, defining these as ‘non-existent news that becomes real when it is published by a newspaper or magazine.’ The Oxford Dictionary – the President went on – also goes a bit further in defining as ‘fake’ all ‘the news that is not verified in its authenticity and truthfulness’; not just those that are definitely false but also those that have not been verified. This – is Mattarella’s conclusion – is what distinguishes journalism from other phenomena. Journalists know well – and even publishers – that their profession is based on verifying trustworthiness and seeking the truth.”

GFM

Leggi in Italiano

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