Courtesy Reuters

The Future of the Italian Press

ITALY lost her last remnants of liberty when the freedom of the press was abolished in January 1925 and all Italian newspapers became, despite their different titles, nothing but Official Gazettes or Master's Voices. A proper solution of the problem how to restore that lost freedom is essential to the restoration of truly democratic government in Italy.

Until Italy is completely liberated from the Germans and neo-Fascists, and so long as newsprint continues to be extremely scarce, some regulation of the number and size of newspapers is obviously unavoidable. The responsible occupying authorities limited the number of papers to one for each political party. This makeshift, however, cannot be prolonged if the aim is to revive truly free political life in Italy.

Italy has never had anything to compare with the weeklies of Anglo-Saxon countries, and past experience does not encourage us to rely on the weekly press for the political education of the people. Dailies will continue to be almost the only channel through which electors can be led to form a strong democratic government truly representative of the will of the people. Today nobody knows what this will is; probably, indeed, no such thing as a popular will exists. Hopes, fears, shibboleths, slogans, rumors sway the country. Without a truly free press, representing all shades of opinion, the general elections to be held eventually will be much more like a Napoleonic, Mussolinian or Hitlerian plebiscite than a reasoned selection of the best men to be put at the helm of the state.

II. THE PARTY PRESS: ITS MERITS AND LIMITATIONS

The new dailies -- whether published legally in Naples or Rome, or illegally in Milan or Turin, and including the local papers in the smaller cities -- are organs of the different political parties. In this respect the old newspapers like Avanti! which were suppressed in Italy during the Fascist régime may be classified as new also; for they are party organs too. To the extent that the mouthpieces

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