Italy: Are We Free?

stella d'italia

According to the NGO Freedom House reports for 2013 my country is considered “free” as  stated in the general report with an important difference with the press-related report where is stated “partly  free”.

In the general report there is a very important note:

Italy’s political rights rating declined from 1 to 2 due to continued, widespread grand and petty corruption, especially in the south.” (citation)

This dichotomy can be explained with a few considerations. The press and the media operators are to be considered free when no political or economical pressure can be applied upon them and/or there is no overwhelming concentration of media in the hands of a political party or an economic cartel.

You have to consider that Italy got an aging population and an insufficient level of infrastructures when it comes to net bandwidth; these two factors limit the number of people who have access to the Net. Another important factor to be noted is that a large number of Italians do not read books, not even one a year. That leave the television as the main access point for news and political debate, it’s easy to say that who control the TV get the upper hand in politics.

So the question came to mind: in Italy are we really free?

Is a population free when the news can be altered, ridden or partially represented?  What’s the level of knowledge of public affairs and political debate when so many sources are under control of few economical cartels?

In my opinion Freedom House analyst are right. The solution for such a problem is not an easy one. Anti-trust laws in my country are a joke and building more infrastructures is quite difficult given the economic crisis. The answer, once again, is culture. We need to teach to our children to deny any reliability to the current media scene, to study our recent history from scratch in order to understand the present.

It will take a generation to succeed.


Italy’s general report, here.

Italy’s press report, here.


6 thoughts on “Italy: Are We Free?

  1. You can add to this that, at least from what I can see, here we have a rather “funny” misconception about what freedom really is: when I look and hear around, I often get get impression that our dear fellow countrymen think that being free means “I do what I want” rather that “I have my rights”.

    And maybe your are growing tired of the “optimism” of my replies 🙂

    • The misconcept tied to the word “freedom” is a common one, I agree with you about that. Individualismi s the name of the game for a great number of Italians, each and everyone worried about how much money and power it’s possible to grab, no matter what happens later. A few weeks ago I was reading an essay about Italian politics in 1880, there I found the same attitude, the same denial of the concept of “us” as a country.
      I’m not tired about what you write here. We can disagree and be friends as well.

  2. We are increasingly losing our freedom – and this reduction in freedom was happily embraced by a wide portion of the population.
    The public has been desensitized to the point that the news is “not fun enough” for most viewers.
    It’s a very hard problem to solve.

    • Basically it’s the concept of infotainment in its worst meaning.
      Many TV programs that on the surface are meant to provide in-depth analysis about a subject are really more like a pityful “sbatti il mostro in prima pagina” show and in the end they satisfy the desire for morbidity, not for information. And the television news are going in that direction too, when not already there since a lot of time.
      And in the end this could also be acceptable, if there would be an alternative, let’s say, more or less a balance of serious programs and news and less serious ones, and if people could be safely trusted to tell the difference between them. But except for the movies and series that I like to see, and that of course are not so tightly related to a program palimpsest, I find myself always on the same channel. To hell with plurality.
      And I’m just talking about TV because that little magic box, even now that we are well inside the 21st century, can really do wonders; not that the internet is the pure and safe harbor that some like to yell about, but at least it’s not owned by very few players and if one is able and wants to make a selection of good sources, he can do it.

      I don’t think that solving this will be easy, as well.
      And I also believe that it’s not easy to make a foreigner really understand what’s going on here, why things are like that and in general why a country like ours can’t live by a civilized one’s standards.

      • Journalism in Italy it’s under the toe of those who are in control of the media, it’s a power system meant to be exclusive and safely handled as a control tool. There a few independent voices, people who are under stress by the means of judicial matters and/or menaced by organized crime cartels. Investigations should be the basics for this kind of job, and the “fourth power” should be the watchdog of politcs and economy. Yeah, it should be.
        We’re “partly free”, as told by Freedom House. We’re free to dissent, to rant, to yell our feelings about everything. But not too loud. There’s an invisible line and if you go over that limit you will find yourself in serious trouble. I’m a bit into the political scene in the town I live in and believe me it wasn’t my brightest idea to get involved in that mess. Even a little disturbance is a problem for our little caudillos.

    • Our beloved country could be used as an example for a modern days Orwell, that’s what I think in my darkest days. The word “future” disappeared here, just like the word “past”. We’re living in a neverending present, surrounded by people that simply have to use media noise in order to avoid thinking. If any strange failure blocks TV systems for a week or so we will have a devolution on the streets.
      As stated in the post it will take a generation to challenge this state of mind.

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