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Journalism: Powers and Responsibilities

In one of the full-roomed talks of the last afternoon, Corriere della Sera journalist Sergio Romano gave the public a glimpse of what is it to be a journalist in Italy today, under the worldview of someone who’s been on the field for time enough to be able to trace a profile of it. He talked about the constant multiplication of issues to deal with and need coverage from journalists, and he numbered a few characteristics of the Italian journalism nowadays. One of them is that the exercise of Journalism in Italy progresses in a much slower pace than in other democracies, such as Germany, United Kingdom and North America. “In these countries there are tabloids and formal newspapers, because they have public for both. Here in Italy we need what we call omnibus – newspapers that cover hard news as much as issues tabloids cover”.  Also, the high number of newspapers owned by editors who are more interested in defending their own interests than the public’s lead to the so-known interest conflict, which is an issue-to-solve not only in Italian papers, but on papers all over the world.

In a later moment, Romano also cited the “ambitions to write well” in Italian journalism is another issue. The problem in his opinion is that papers in Italy “don’t offer a good literature, because there’s a high rate of imprecision on the news”. And what makes it more serious is that there’s not much such a habit of publishing the corrections with as much frequency or visibility as they should. The fragmented politics in Italy is also reflected in the way newsrooms are structured in Italy, according to Romano. There’s the politics of “the answer to the answer to the answer” in daily papers, and the choosing of the sources where to get the information from is also something that should be more carefully done.

The issue of the patriarcal structure of early papers and the remains of this line of thought in the newsrooms nowadays also had a place in his talk, as much as the importance of finding a niche to quality papers so they can survive as time goes by, but what called the most attention – specially to a young-audience flooded room – was his quite conservative view about blogs and their role in information diffusion in the late years. In Romano’s opinion, “blogs are not the answer to the search of quality journalism”. It’s much more a place where you get the “scoops”, crashes, and somewhere people can “lay their spleen against what’s going on”. He was not really in favour of the “daily me” (which was the primary idea that blogs were made to convey). He admitted that interactvity and usability of these tools make them very useful nowadays, but also that “they can be even more secatrian than the papers we have on the newsstands”. And he also defended the need for readers to reivindicate quality from bloggers through the interaction they now have in hands.

But the closing didn’t sound any apocalyptical, though. Romano didn’t sound like someone who’s moaning for the dying newspapers. Instead, he emphasized that “the criteria for good journalism are still fashionable”, and that the strive for quality journalism is as valid now as it ever was. Good dose of motivation for who wishes to enter this brave old world or who’s already found their path in it.

Meghie Rodrigues

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