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SIR’s 30th Anniversary: against the fabricators of fake news

Fabricating fake news is an activity based on compromise, an expression that does not refer to the action of an individual. Rather, it is the result of the coordinated action of several players with the purpose of verbally attacking another person who is thereby reduced to the enemy that must be defeated, mirroring the scenario of a conflict. From this perspective the adversary of the truth is not only the person who gives shape to false news. In fact it includes – with tragic topical relevance – all those present in the news media sector who contribute to legitimize and endorse the spiral of distorted information, the so-called “slime-machine”, thereby accepting a logic of compromise that serves several purposes (visibility, power, financial gain)

In the Holy Father’s message the emphasis placed on the principles underlying SIR’s editorial line as opposed to fake news, the phenomenon of the manipulation of news at centre of the Message for the 52nd World Communications Day, is of special significance. In the Pope’s speech, the words of Msgr. Giuseppe Cacciami thus become an opportunity to reiterate once more that the phenomenon of disinformation and distorted data amounts to polluted relations with others that we must be able to recognize. In fact its unmasking is an unavoidable challenge for news media professionals called to counter falsehood, to withstand pandering scandals that in most cases are purposely designed and fomented to hurt the other person, to blemish that person’s reputation by fuelling division and hostilities often caused by resentement, or, worse still, by envy.

Thus it is truly worthwhile to reread a passage from that letter in which once again the Pope encourages us to recognize the goodness of truth, resorting to an effective metaphorical figure, that of the guardian: ” Be ever more passionate about the truth. Be the protectors of the news. […]Informing others means forming others; it means being in touch with people’s lives.” From that perspective

to work at the service of information means above all to “continue along the beautiful and challenging path of thought, without ever making compromises.”

Those words are clearly telling us that fabricating fake news is an activity based on compromise. This expression does not indicate the isolated action of an individual. Rather, it is the result of the coordinated action of many players with the purpose of verbally attacking another person who is thereby reduced to the enemy that must be defeated, mirroring the scenario of a conflict.

In this respect the adversary of the truth is not only the person who gives shape to false news. In fact it includes – with tragic topical relevance – all those operating in the news media sector who contribute to legitimize and endorse the spiral of distorted information, the so-called “slime-machine”, thereby accepting a logic of compromise that serves several purposes (visibility, power, financial gain).To the point of reaching one of the most paradoxical and tragic drifts of twisting the truth, a hypocritical attitude consisting in denigrating the other person who is (falsely) accused of being him/herself a fabricator of fake news to pool consensus aimed at obtaining an advantage for himself or for his group.

Here we see the great value of the final exhortation contained in the Letter that the Pope addressed to SIR news professionals: “Remain free and distant from reductionist models; help people understand the facts in all their complexity and deepest meaning.”

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