Fake news is today one of the most debated socio-political topics with legal and media processes to websites, journalists, communication professionals and information platforms that deliberately or not publish hoaxes and misleading news.
From the Internet this false news is often taken and shared on social media and thus increases its impact on society. As a result, people become increasingly wary. In the United States over a quarter of those interviewed by Statista - a website that, on payment, offers analysis, interviews and access to more than a million facts and statistics on Fake News - say they rarely trust the news circulating in the press, on the internet, or through social media.
Journalism was considered the Fourth Power, the watchdog that by informing the public the nation was protected by guaranteeing the truth. Nowadays that information arises from all sides, from the media and from the public itself, so does this defensive role still exist?
The number of journalists who are at risk and pay with their lives to reveal information important for public life is increasing year by year. There is on the big screen Kill the Messenger, a film based on the true story of Gary Webb. He was a journalist, who in the mid-1990s, revealed the CIA's role in arming Nicaraguan contras and importing cocaine into California. He is put under enormous pressure, chooses to continue his denunciation and becomes a victim of fierce slander fueled by the CIA, was forced to defend his integrity, his family, his life, until suicide. Serena Shim, a North-American journalist of Lebanese origin, discovered that ISIS jihadists were smuggled between Turkey and Syria in humanitarian aid vehicles. A few days later, she died in a car accident killed by a heavy vehicle that would never be identified.
Journalism, however, seems nowadays supporting the ruling class rather than an objective observer. An Italian journalist, Filippo Facci, talks about the crisis of traditional journalism due to its obsolete business model, its invasion of social networks and Citizen Journalism, and the need to merge information into a show in order to attract audiences. He concludes that there is no one who today can call himself a "journalist", not even reporters, because these too have to weave their news more into entertainment than into true information (Il Giornalista Non Esiste Più). The result is a regression that humiliates the function of journalism, often reduced to a "distributor channel for unverified gossip and for political or commercial propaganda". The manipulation of reality leads to grant "a license of authenticity to any reconstruction or interpretation of facts" (L'appello al "journalism pride"). The economic crisis, a fall in wages and media income means that the Churnalism takes the place of investigative journalism and journalists and reporters are reduced to replicating press releases, instead of doing research, analysis and criticism so as to enlighten for the readers world breaking news.
Among this discouraging informative environment the commitment to "a better world", the complaint "Our house is in flames", the appeal "build bridges not walls" while involving social movements, world youth, religious authorities is likely to be more a show than a force of change. Behind every significant historical change, there is always a written page. The importance of information and its mission are relevant today as always. People want to know and want it quickly, simply and clearly; they want to be informed, not teased. Those who read newspapers, listen to the radio, watch television are intelligent people who seek change and want to participate in it; they thirst for freedom and truth and want to be properly informed while being respected in their personal freedom of judgment.
The truth will make you free (John 8, 32). If we want peace and freedom, why are we afraid of the truth?
Why in Italy does the left avoid calling the brutal massacres in the Sri Lankan Christian churches Islamic terrorism? Why are Obama and Clinton in the United States unable to call Christians the victims of these massacres, instead calling them by the neologism of Easter Worshippers, incomprehensible moreover to those not of Christian culture? (See, We must face the truth about Islam).
Freedom and responsibility, respect and clarity go hand in hand to discover and understand life, the reality in its everyday beauty and irreducible complexity (L'appello al "journalism pride"). Easter reminds us of the long past clash between News and Fake News. Was Christ risen because his tomb was empty and his disciples said they saw him alive? Let beside faith and the historical evaluation of each one. How could be seen as an acceptable alternative that guards saw a body being stolen while they were sleeping? Only a preconceived refusal to give room to any reality shaking a pre-established ideology could suggest it
The art’s critic, Umberto Eco, in his essay Lupus in fabula, introduces a laborious thesis: whoever picks up a book does not really read it, but rewrites it. Mental categories, education, imagination, experience make the reader unconsciously rewriting the text he assumes to be simply reading. The proliferation of fake news would perhaps be a symptom of a society increasingly struggling between paranoia and schizophrenia: unable to read reality to understand it, it reconstructs it according to its political, economic, religious ideology by self-defense instinct, for unconscious fears, for thirst for power, always to defend and impose a life project.
The political elections that in these last months are taking place in many African, Asian and European countries, the European Community elections themselves require serious reflection on this issue, that becomes a test bed and a challenge.