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Information and Liberty

Anno XXXI, n. 133, gennaio-febbraio 1996
Centro Einaudi


Testo disponibile solo in lingua inglese.
It has been said that, in wartime, "the first casualty is truth". If this is so, then it goes to prove that inner and external liberty are both necessary if we are to have realiable, accurate information. The freedom of the press really exists and is safeguarded solely in open modern societies. It was not protected in the absolutist regimes of the past, nor is it protected in the ideological and fundamentalist regimes of the present. Yet if we wish to prevent it from degenerating into licence, liberty also implies restrictions: namely, assumption of responsibility. The first and fundamental responsibility of journalists and media operators in general is to tell the truth. Speaking of "objectivity" as opposed to "truth" does not shift the terms of the question. For public opinion can only form a healthy opinion on facts and faces on the basis of truthful information. The recipients of information also have responsibilities. The fact is that everyone has the newspapers and televisions he deserves. From this point of view, the remedy to a whole string of problems – such as publishing mergers or the smear campaigns which the press occasionally stages – is not so much legislative intervention (the passing of antitrust laws or the codification of the professional duties of journalists) as the effective opening up of markets and a firmly rooted civil ethos.