Rai: children and the representation of pain on TV
A critical analysis such as that carried out has sense only if it is
aimed at finding ameliorative solutions, proposals and indications for
the future. However, it would be wrong if we tried to lay down real guide
lines: first of all because there are plenty of legal rulings and regulations
(of the Institutive Law of the Journalists Register and the Treviso Charter).
And then because it is a question, if anything, of making the former
and the latter effective by means of the creation of direct and indirect
instruments (by the Observatory that monitors the continual training
All we should do here is to pause briefly to consider what the analysis
carried out "has shown us with our own eyes" and what it has,
more generally, been able to call to our attention.
- First of all, the wider problem of agenda setting
has been presented; that is, what news items are included
a newscast at the expense of others, and why and how
much space they are given. Because, some people will say,
micro (that is, the individual stories) are presented
as macro (that is, events that are important for everyone).
And because, others would add, the news must be to a
extent negative, as if "good news" really were "no
- A second factor to consider regards more specifically
painful news, especially involving a child as the main
character. It is necessary to remember that there are
millions of children
in front of a television newscast who may be particularly
upset by news stories like that of Cogne. "Mummy, but
was it his Mummy?" is a question that many children
in many Italian homes must have asked. It is therefore
necessary to give the right space and use the right language
- On the other hand, it is necessary to consider that
the people involved must be treated with compassion;
the tragedy they are suffering, they find themselves
the object of excessive, disproportionate curiosity.
can be said for the victims, who must be shown great
respect (which sometimes means silence).
- It is necessary to guard against obsessive updating,
which is the temptation to make news reporting into
story telling. The information should consist of details
are in fact new (otherwise, what kind of information
There is the risk of overlapping genres and the creation
of a cheap novel.
- Care must be taken over language, avoiding adjectives
that are over-dramatic and uselessly emphatic, styles
of expression that are typical of story telling (it
is not a
fairy story and the characters are not imaginary).
- It is necessary to guard against the abuse of obsessively
repetitive and over-dramatic images.
- It also has to be noted that more severity is necessary
as regards the programmes giving services on news
stories and in-depth treatment. The reconstruction of all
minute details of the event in question risks encouraging
voyeurism, and will not necessarily give inspiration
for debate on themes linked to it but which may also
be of general
interest. The service otherwise remains as just a
flat piece of news and therefore does not fulfil itself
of in-depth study.
- Care must be taken of how the many different voices
are managed, which first of all must be in fact different,
must then be made to interact and not just placed side
by side. Only in this way can each expert really give
to knowledge without just being limited to "reciting
a part" that leaves everyone dissatisfied.
- More in
general, it would be opportune to consider the role
that crimes involving painful facts play in the
news, and if it is correct to respect the right
to reporting such news, perhaps it is also correct to respect
rights of the viewers to know that we do not live
of Eden but also in the Valley of tears, even here