If journalists reported better the news on threats

The lack of media attention given to threats on reporters is wearying.

An article taken from the Newsletter of the Bologna chapter of the Order of Journalists.

Below is a passage from the article by the director of Ossigeno Alberto Spampinato.

(…) By now the main journalist organisations are participating in the trials, actively soliciting the political world and law enforcement agencies.

All this indicates that the work done from 2009 onwards has not been in vain. But now we must take a step forward and move on from words to deeds.

The first thing to do, while waiting for the most appropriate measures to be taken, is precisely the following. The creation of more robust networks of solidarity that can tangibly help those who suffer unjustifiable abuse and violence and cannot defend themselves with their own resources. This certainly requires a synergy among the active participants. It also requires that journalists do their part better and set a good example. First of all by opposing that deeply rooted cliché that a threatened or sued journalist must have done something wrong or “looked for it”. This is not the case but many journalists think so and this weakens us.

Another thing that journalists could do is this: to provide as reporters, as publishers of newspapers, as editors of the various newspapers, a broader, more complete and continuous information on the threats that affect their colleagues and which prevent citizens from knowing many facts of public interest. I believe that this would make a great contribution to the collective efforts that we and others make to raise awareness.

Moreover this contribution would be even greater if this news, on those few occasions it is published, was contextualized, as is correct for any journalistic news, by placing every individual incident in the general picture of the phenomenon. As is done, for example, in reporting rape. By now it is necessary to report how many other incidents of rape have occurred throughout Italy and in the same area, and specifying when: in the last month, in the last year and with what similarities.

This would be extremely useful for understanding the seriousness of the phenomenon. It should also be an obligation. Why is it so rarely done? I wonder if acting in this way, besides showing a lack of sensitivity, it is also a mistake from a professional point of view and perhaps even a violation of ethics.

I don’t honestly know for sure, but I think so. I would like us to reflect on this and other points together, reasoning calmly, organising encounters between those who think like me and those who disagree. Let’s talk and clarify these points, if we really want to work effectively to promote accurate and quality reporting. I know that the President of the Order, Carlo Verna, has also focused his thoughts on these aspects of our profession and I hope that there will be an opportunity to discuss them publicly and to offer everyone useful elements to guide them.


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