Power Chihuahua

Reporters sans Frontieres World Press Freedom Index 2017

In international ranking for freedom of the press, Italy arrived 52nd in 2017, preceded by countries commonly seen as economically, politically or culturally less developed that it, like Jamaica, Costa Rica, Slovakia, Ghana, Namibia, Slovenia, Burkina- Faso, Belize, Romania, Botswana ... There is certainly something wrong, both with the opinion that we have of these countries and with what we think of ourselves, but evidently it is necessary to understand the criteria upon which this particular ranking was constructed.

First of all, the data were collected and analysed by the Reporters Sans Frontieres NGO which deals with the freedom of the journalist as a professional, oriented ,therefore, towards assessing risks of physical safety (associated with threats by criminal or terrorist organizations) and legal restraint (defamation, dismissal) regarding journalists which prevent them from practicing their trade freely. By means of a questionnaire distributed among press operators, the organisation collects information regarding 7 macro-areas: pluralism, media independence, context and self-censorship, legislature, transparency, infrastructure and abuse, data that are then intertwined with cases of attack, threat, arrest or dismissal of journalists, to arrive at an overall judgment of the climate in which information professionals operate in a given country.

There is, of course, a strong imbalance in media ownership, and those in charge are often hand-picked on the basis of political affiliation and loyalty to certain editorial lines. In this case it does not emerge that a certain degree of difficulty in finding space is encountered by the non-aligned, while disparity of means makes it hard for dissenting voices to be heard and be deemed authoritative. This is a difficult phenomenon to measure ...

The Chihuahua, with its small size and its cantankerous character, has always been a symbol of the attitude commonly defined as "I would, but I cannot". If, once the free press was called the "Watchdog of Power", today it might be more appropriately compared to the Chihuahua ...

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