Guarantee of anonymity

Publish date 17-10-2021

by Stefano Caredda

For those who aspire to become a journalist, it is a must-read, to be studied in detail and then to be applied scrupulously. For all citizens, and in particular for children and grandchildren, it is a form of fundamental protection, because the risks of uncontrolled media exposure - already very high for each person - become incalculable when children and adolescents are the protagonists of the information. . Some may have escaped, but there are very precise rules to outline the contours of the presence of minors on the mass media: applied scrupulously most of the times, unexpectedly ignored some others, too many, with negative consequences for the direct protagonists. The "coupon" of the "Treviso Charter", the deontological document which for over 30 years has governed the relationship between information and childhood, and which is moving towards an update in recent weeks, is a good opportunity to scroll through those rules that are so important and remember them, in order to use them and invoke them.

Today, the profound changes that have taken place in multimedia information, characterized by increasing speed, require journalists to pay even more sensitivity and attention in observing the obligation to protect the rights of children and adolescents. The cardinal principle is simple: on the one hand there is freedom of information, which in our legal system is configured as a right and at the same time as a duty; on the other hand there is the protection of children and adolescents, which is so fundamental that its prevalence is sanctioned, speaking of the "best interests of children and adolescents" in the protection of their rights.

The rule aims to guarantee anonymity, confidentiality, the protection of personal data and the image of the minor in any capacity involved in news stories, a necessity that remains so both in cases of "violence, sexual offenses and facts of extraordinary public interest ", both in cases not having criminal relevance. Think, the journalist must "in any case" protect the interest of the minor, avoiding phenomena of spectacle, overexposure and exploitation, and all this "regardless of the consent of the parent." The go-ahead of the father and mother to the media exposure of the child does not exempt the information professional from the responsibility of assessing whether it produces negative consequences for the minor: and this always applies, even in cases of interviews or participation of children. and children at television broadcasts or public events. Not a small responsibility. And then, always use a language that respects their dignity, always avoid prejudices and stereotypes, and do it in all circumstances, be it vulnerable minors (with disabilities, foreigners, orphans of crimes), minors involved in foster care, adoptions and separations, of juvenile offenders. Always and in any case no sensationalism and no media exploitation. It is true, sometimes it does not happen. But also for this reason it is important to keep talking about these things.

Stefano Caredda
NP June / July 2021

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