Technological transformations, together with the economic crisis, are leading to a momentous transition in the field of information. This turning point is similar and probably more important than the one experienced at the turn of the ’70s by the national and international press. These ongoing transformations concern the ownership of media, its concentration, its very existence, and  the quality of information.Traditional media such as the press are destined to survive in a completely different way with respect to the past. At this juncture, we are already witnessing the closing down of several newspapers, to the extent that the pluralism of information is being threatened on a daily basis.

The new media may well increase the potential of information and expression, but it’s not difficult to foresee that this will also lead to a concentration of human and financial resources. Even the difference between information, advertising and propaganda itself, which used to be monitored by professional associations, is becoming increasingly blurred. This is one of the most unprecedented and insidious attacks on freedom and pluralism. There is an urgent need for a European authority to be empowered to supervise and intervene, whenever possible, to address these kind of issues.

As an international foreign correspondent who has been reporting the key political and military events of the last 30 years from the field, I am in a role that has been both contractually and de facto abolished in my country as a consequence of the latest national agreements regarding journalists’ contracts, a reality which is mirrored at a European level. Effectively, I am addressing you as a no longer existing professional figure, a figure which is technically dead.

Because of their professional autonomy, correspondents are no longer functional to the organisation of work. This is a great loss, because young people are being deprived of yet another opportunity to specialise in and follow an alternative career. However, this is not a tragedy, the profession will survive in new and different forms which have already emerged and continue to do so.

I would now take this opportunity to share a personal memory. 32 years ago, when I decided to cover the revolution in Iran, I travelled by train from Italy to Turkey and continued by coach to the cities of Tabriz and Teheran. As a 23-year-old, I had gone there to see how a revolution was made and for the past year, I have again been witnessing the ongoing revolutions in the arab world. Maybe I have been trying to find elsewhere something which I have never seen in my own country. But the hope is still there.

Good job and good luck to you all!

Alberto Negri

 

Article translated by: Marco Paparella

 

Alberto Negri, Italian journalist, is special correspondent in the Middle East for the daily business newspaper “Il Sole 24 Ore” is also Board Member of the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI).