A conversation with Paolo Cesarini
The limit between truth and lies is thin and invisible. It can be a playroom for everyone who wants to change reality or simply create chaos with simple actions. Thanks to a special guest, we have gotten several insights on how to understand and recognize that limit.
Mr. Paolo Cesarini is head of unit at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition. Head of Unit responsible of Media Convergence and Social Media in the Directorate General for Communication Networks, Content and Technology of the European Commission.
The importance of communication, in the digital era, where everyone has the right and the possibility to say what is true or false, the percentage of misunderstandings and the arbitrary truth is increasingly becoming common.
Journalism and the news, in older terms and in the most primal meaning, can express the reality of things or simply express the news from the world. The most common questions about the distortion of the reality can be linked with : freedom of speech, democracy, pluralism , trust in journalism (fourth power).
Past experiences about historical events or satire are traceable in Robert Dornton campaign and le canard. Nowadays early examples of satire are carried out by anonymous people or peer to peer communication with a transformation in the media sector.
Thanks to the development of media and technology, we can have lots of channels for information and news, most of the times in real time. We use some channels, but we actually trust in others. People under 50 years old like reading news on television or surfing on the Internet. The traditional press is not relevant as we might expect and, for this reason, it is taken into consideration. On the other side, there is a 70% of people saying they trust the news from the radio and only a 26% trusting the ones on online social media. This is the result of the evolution of minds and the out of control change of life, political developments, foreign relations and the liberty of every human being to have the right to lie.
A complex era has its own wars and problems that are becoming more and more difficult to face, sometimes we don’t know where our credibility can be located;
Who can you trust in? What is the reality of situations? Is it a distortion?
We fear “the fake”. To most of us, it is a big dark world without an order. However, with a change of perspective, it can also be a guide to understanding something.
Advertising is the first form of distortion of reality. The biggest market of news, information is based on it. The contents are concerned more in emotions and feelings with an impact on the emotional sphere than on reason or rational part of the mind.
The strategy of fake news is based on giving credibility with fake logos or photos as a “container of news”. People are attracted to something that is popular and familiar to them and in this way the creator of this new business can become rich selling a lie. 34% of advertisings come from digital platforms: they can be organic or programmatic (Google and Facebook).
The relationship between the net and the physical world is strong but, at the same time, it is fragile. You can see the results-reflections of a lie on everyday actions of human beings life.
How can journalists protect themselves from being manipulated?
This important question was raised these days at the European Commission and the outcome was linked with the creation of a “code of practice for online platforms”, it is the outcome of a multidimensional approach to the disinformation.
The area of action of the Commission is organized in four steps: the creation of a code of practice, the strength of fact-checking and monitoring the capacity on disinformation, media literacy, new technologies, and support media innovation.
The core of the project is exposed during the European Week of Media Literacy with the aim of spreading the awareness of cooperation, to give the birth to nature of self-information in its pure meaning with a rich cultural background. It is not a single problem of writers and readers, but a global issue in which the Member States have to cooperate and have solid dialogues to solve the leak.
In this field, it is not possible to forget the freedom of expression, art.11 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, and to guarantee it in political terms it is necessary a “self-regulatory approach” with a developed critical thinking capacity.