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The Future of the Press

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He was five years old when he first started to play with the metal letters of a rotary press. His father was a printer in a small town of Calabria, South Italy. Pippo, this is still his nickname, was very happy to share his playing time near his father while this latter was at work, without knowing that this was already a predetermined destiny.

A few years later he moved to Rome where he finished his studies and started very early to work as a journalist for different newspapers. "When I recall those times it seems to me that centuries have passed," says Giuseppe Marra, still Pippo for everybody, founder and chairman of GMC ADNKronos Group, for over 20 years one of the most important multimedia editorial groups in the field of information and communication.

We live today in a world in which speed is the keyword in the new media world, otherwise you are out. But never as today we feel the duty to find the right way to conjugate science and technologies with humanity. The future of the press lays in the capability of editors and journalists to understand that technologies do not have to surpass quality, ethical value and reliability of the news.

According to this vision two are the fundamental moments of the editors' job: the first concerns the news content and opinion, the second the specificity of the mass media and the speed of the transmission. These moments, strictly connected, can contaminate the quality of the message, with social and political implications that can touch the moral profile of the information and can change the language and the writing, already revolutionized by the new technologies.

"We all know that 'real time' have multiple effects, just see what happened during 9/11," he continues.

After 8 years from that terrible day we all know that the information that we got during those days are today slightly different. So different that even Hillary Clinton during the elections campaign had to excuse herself to have approved Bush's politic to invade Iran. Facing such circumstances, how did we expect mass media to react? They should perhaps have ignored those data, knowing that they would have changed after few days or months? The answer to me is that mass media could not avoid to spread the news that were coming hour after hour around the planet, even if they could not verify completely the sources. We could give the same answers for the "forgotten wars" like Darfur, Somalia or even Afghanistan, not to mention what happened about the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, casus belli of the war in Iraq. But the point is that these information have determined political, economical, financial and social choices around the globe. For this reason we must understand how the speed of the information can condition the whole mediatic system.

Concerning the future of the publishing industry Marra has his own vision:

The online version of newspapers will grow their presence a lot in the future but I think that it will pass decades before the paper will disappear. There are still many writers who do not change their habits of using the "pen" and although big editors like Murdock are investing lots of money on the web versions we should wait generations before this will completely substitute the paper.

Regarding the latest tendency of releasing paid content Marra is aware of the fact that this will be the future:

At ADNKronos our news are still completely free but we are thinking to soon pass to an intermediate step of releasing paid abstract of the articles. The true problem is though the quality of the news and the freedom of the press: in our country in my opinion, the conflict of interest has born much before Berlusconi arose to politics, because 100% sheer editors have disappeared and the new ones are involved in many other activities in different sectors. For this reason most of the press is functional to these interests and this impose to follow very often a pre constituted path. Therefore, it is more correct to say that Berlusconi embodies the conflict of interest in the public opinion, but unfortunately he is not the only one, at least in Italy. In other western countries where this conflict is not so evident, the press has given much more serious and coherent answers. My hope is that technology and the web will succeed right where politic has failed.