COVID-19 and morbidity in professional information in Italy

The management of an emergency relies upon hope because hope is what drives people not to “give up”. It is, therefore, essential to intervene on the unscrupulous behaviour of those media which, with the excuse of “inform”, foment anxiety and confusion.

Fake news aside, which by now like bacteria have permanently installed themselves in the body of social networks, the negative role embodied by “professional” information and entertainment is becoming increasingly apparent.

Despite the invitation – that nothing more than this could be – of the Communications Authority to talk about COVID-19 using authoritative sources there is a proliferation of television broadcasts providing unreliable data or feeding debates whose only purpose is to raise controversy.

A few examples. A well-known journalist calculates the lethality rate of the virus by dividing the number of infected by the number of deaths, thus calculating the “average” of losses. In a news talk show, the guest invited to talk about COVID-19 were a political notician and a journalist from the entertainment business- In an entertainment broadcast, a politician stubbornly refuses to accept the scientific data – provided by an expert – of the difference between the COVID-19 and the USA-China engineered virus of 2015.

The list could be much longer, but the issue is apparent: even the so-called professional information has difficulty in stopping itself from fomenting morbidity and alarmism. This behaviour amplifies the selfishness of the worst part of this country, and while I have no data to quantify the number of potentially dangerous people or the extent of potential troubles, at least for now, it looks like Pandora’s box has not yet been (completely) opened. We are therefore still in time to prevent this from happening if the information system also decides – seriously – to do its part.

On the altar of emergency, we have already sacrificed constitutional freedoms such as movement, gathering, enterprise and education. The next one could be freedom of expression, that might be furtherly compressed after the early warnings issued by the Italian Communication Authority, for example, by tightening the penalties of the crime provided for in Article 656 of the Criminal Code and/or the creation of immediately enforceable administrative sanctions.

Should that happens, it would create a constitutional break because drawing a line between freedom of the press (i.e., of information) and censorship is a challenging task, which would require the necessary intervention of a court. Better not to get to this point because if you knock on Justice’s doors to ask for the respect of the Law, all you would find is a sign: “Closed for viruses”.

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