“The question of the truth and of accountability underpinning this issue, which has been round the world, has also become a question of freedom. The Prime Minister in attacking Repubblica is attacking the whole of the press of the western world,” said Carlo de Benedetti, chairman of Italian publishing group Gruppo Editoriale L’Espresso, this week in the below speech, entitled ‘Newspapers and Democracy in the Internet Era. The Italian Case’, to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism.
De Benedetti was referring to the legal action brought against La Repubblica, which is published by L’Espresso, by Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi.
Berlusconi had refused to answer 10 questions posed by the paper to the leader regarding a series of alleged scandals. Berlusconi took legal action and claimed for damages against the paper prompting an online petition from the paper.
“On November 5, after six months of attacks and allegations, the Italian Premier finally had to answer the 10 questions posed by Repubblica. This decision shows that the questions were legitimate, that it was journalistically correct to ask them, reiterate them and demand an answer. The delay with which the answer arrived was definitely politically significant. Equally significant was the method chosen for the answers: rejecting a direct confrontation with Repubblica or a dialogue with public opinion, opting instead for a journalist friend and his book, published by the publishing house owned directly by the head of the government. A controlled and protected political operation,” explained de Benedetti in his speech reproduced below via Scribd, in which he also comments on the role of citizen journalists and online news sites.