In Italy, where Google executives are sentenced to 6 months in jail and the web is frowned upon bipartisanly from all political sides, more than 100.000 citizens have signed an open letter accusing of fraud the editor in chief of TG1, Augusto
Minzolini, for airing false news of aquittal of Berlusconi's lawyer,
In fact, charges against the british lawyer ceased to be
valid as a result of the statute of limitations.
Such a blunder would have earned the boot to any journalism student… Instead, TG1 aired it internationally.
The letter posted on Facebook last Sunday (below is the English text), was addressed to the President of the Italian National Journalists Association, Lorenzo Del Boca, by Arianna Ciccone, and has gathered more than 100.000 subscribers in less than three days. To sign, people simply needed to join the associated Facebook group which sports a figure of the late Enzo Biagi, one of the most popular Italian journalists who was evicted from Rai during Berlusconi's previous mandate.
Ciccone, who defines herself not as a media activist, but a sincerely passionate media consumer and has launched the International journalism festival in Perugia, is elated.
In little more than 48 hours her initiative has gathered more than 100.000 subscribers (+110% in the last 24h). This is a quite overwhelming support as it contradicts the common assumption (expecially in Italy) that the web is an obscure space where users enjoy anonimity and cultivate indifference.
In fact, this last event rather underscores how lively and strong the demand for balanced information is in the country and how many citizens are turning to the web for making themselves heard. Putting out their face and name to defend it (literally… it's Facebook).
So here's the English text of Ciccone's letter which has been mailed to President Del Boca earlier today.
Del Boca is also one of the guest speakers to the International Journalism Festival, where he will surely have lots of questions from the public.
The original letter (in Italian): http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=332356579722&index=1
The group of petitioners (almost 100.000): http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=380461210040
To the President of the National Journalists Association
Lorenzo Del Boca
the Editor of tg1 News Augusto Minzolini
and the President of Rai Paolo Garimberti
subject: report of severe violation of the professional code of conduct
Dear Mr. President,
I’m writing to you on behalf of myself and I believe of all the citizens that have truth and the dignity of the journalistic profession in this country at heart. Let me begin by stating that this is not about left or right, or whether it’s legitimate for the director of RAI 1 News to express his views (personally I believe that a news director has a right to express his thoughts and his opinions). This is about the professional code of conduct and the fundamental role of journalism. Yesterday at 13.30, as you know, RAI 1 News gave a false report. Now, I believe that none of us should accept this. Therefore I expect an exemplary reaction from the Association to an episode that humiliates the journalistic profession and the citizens of this country.
As the commentator Michele Serra, rightly observes: "To be able to say on the TV news, or write in a newspaper, that ‘Mills has been acquitted’, thus trying to pass off as an acquittal what in reality is a guilty verdict rendered invalid as a result of the statute of limitations, you’re got to be a real scoundrel. I’m not saying biased, or manipulative, or a bootlicker, I’m saying scoundrel because altering the truth is a crime for a journalist, just as it is for a baker to spit in the bread he makes. This is not about opinions, interpretations or political passions. This is actual fraud, filthy fraud that highlights not a nation split in two but something far worse: full-blown impunity to those who lie with malice, method, intention, certain of not having to answer to anyone (and a reaction from the Italian National Journalist Association? It would be more realistic to hope for an intervention of Batman).
Then again, why should journalists in this country of impunity be exempt from the privilege of spreading lies and cheating public opinion without consequences? Many of their masters and political representatives in the last twenty years have pursued and amply experimented in every way the pleasure of impunity. May their employees also share in this pleasure".
Do these thoughts hurt you as much as they hurt me? Now, dear President Del Boca, I as an Italian citizen expect from the Association that disciplinary measures be taken against the journalist who has so blatantly violated the fundamental principle of the code of conduct: to tell the truth. I expect, dear President Garimberti and dear Director Minzolini, the apologies of RAI 1 News and a correction of the false report.
I look forward to receiving your reply.