England has just got out of an unexpected and agitated election campaign. I have the luck to live with an English guy, who is quite interested in politics and in his country future. We have been speaking a lot about what was happening in England, what is going to happen with Brexit, what does he feel about this strange situation. Above all, there is an issue that impressed me between his reasoning: the absolute scepticism about traditional media.
He doesn’t adopt this position because – as sometimes happens – in the reality he has never read a newspaper in his life. On the contrary he’s been an assiduous reader of the main British newspapers for a long time, until he started to have perplexity about some articles neutrality, especially about political issues. Of course, it is not uncommon for some newspapers to endorse a party or to hold a particular view. However, the problem exists when this endorsement takes place through the omission, the alteration or even the invention of news.
My flatmate doubts surprise me because I’ve always studied the power, the independence and the investigative capacity of British journalism, careful to divide facts and propaganda clearly. Every one is aware of the huge crisis that involves the information world and every body knows that soon or later the journalism structure will change deeply.
Now, I’m thinking about the recent Russia gate scandal: six days ago, three CNN journalists had to resign because they had published a fake news about some connection between Donald Trump and a Russian private equity company. They retired the news, admitting that they hadn’t checked the article accuracy before the online submission. How is it possible? How three professionals with so much experience could have committed this “superficial” mistake? The CNN is continuously accused by Trump of spreading fake news to protect the corrupt system. Never as in this moment it should pay attention about his investigation and articles to avoid contributing the defamatory and dangerous campaign against his editing and all the journalism world.
However, this is not the first time that CNN and other influential newspaper have stumbled in this kind of mistake, that we can call inaccuracies, exaggerations or, for someone, fake news. And if these errors become more and more, how newspaper will be able to defend them self from those who attack them?
I’m worried about this phase of total distrust in everything that is institutional and authoritative, first of all the traditional information. My concern is originated by two main reasons. First of all, because the ‘empty of trust’ left by the traditional media (newspaper, television) it’s filled up by the internet information, where it is really complicated to see the reality in an adequate perspective because of the fragmentary nature and the dissonance of many news, often without a certificate source. In this ocean of articles it’s very easy to run into a fake news much more dangerous than the newspaper ‘fake news’ because in this case no one risks having consequences for writing lies. The second reason of my concern affects the base of democracy: debate, reflexion and information are the main stage of democracy, the main ingredient to build a humanitarian and responsible society. In a future where we cannot start from a common ground of data, facts and objective events shared between everyone, In a future where each one will build his own ideas from a divergent and uncertain information – where will a fair and productive debate be able to grow from?
The contents of this article are the sole responsibility of the author, and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of ALDA and the European Union.