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“The big risk is that systems intended to help connect people will ultimately contribute to disconnecting democracy”. With this message the President of the Osservatorio Permanente Giovani-Editori, Andrea Ceccherini, turned to the topic of social networks during his interview with journalist Massimo Gramellini on the ‘Growing Between the Lines’ stage.

“It’s a risk that manifests itself not just through echo-chambers, which lead individuals to become ever more entrenched in their own convictions, but also through the by now proven fact that an individual may assume more radical and polarising views when talking to someone about a topic via technological means, than they would when talking to that same person about the same topic face to face.”, cautioned the President of the Osservatorio Permanente Giovani-Editori. “It’s a bit like the effect getting into a car has on some people, where they assume a much more extreme attitude to other motorists than they would should they not be in a car. It is by now evident: the machine, whatever form it may take, alienates rather than unites. We need to do something about this.”

Fittingly for one so in favour of integration and discourse, Checcherini reiterated that “the key word for this convention is simple: openness. Openness is the pre-requisite for growth. Just as in real life, where those who close up begin to wither and die, openness is the best way in which to live, and necessary if one wishes to evolve.

The President of the Osservatorio Permanente Giovani-Editori then reminded us of the mission of the organisation, which is celebrating its 18th anniversary this year. “I’d like no-one to lose sight of the driving force which has brought us this far, because it represents the soul and spirit of our mission, the reason we have been brought together.”, emphasised Checcherini “To re-emphasise it, I need only to quote the Native-American oath, where they solemnly remember that the world was not inherited from our forefathers but lent to us by our children, and how each of us has an obligation to leave the world a better place than how we found it.” Checcherini also gave a glance towards the future, stating his intention to use the 10th edition of the “Growing Between the Lines” convention as a way of communicating a message to both editors and the nation at large.

To begin with he reiterated that “Everyone has a right to their own opinions, not to their own facts. It is by embracing this moto that the editorial industry can return to its former brilliance. Provided that it does not forget its customary role as the guardian of quality news and provided that it embraces the courage that is the driving force for all those who know how to make hope win over fear. Let no-one describe you as a small, outdated world, it is time for you editors to launch yourselves into the future and Bagnaia can serve as a launchpad for that process.” For his message to the nation, Checcherini stated that “Bagnaia can become a model: in a country that remains closed we want to open up, in an age riddled with fear we stay hopeful, in a world dominated by certainties we prefer incertainties, and at a time where those who destroy seem to end up on top, we try and build. With faith and with courage. And with a mantra that we will never tire of spreading: that of dialogue. And it is the matter of dialogue that is at the centre of our mission and debate. This is who the people of Bagnaia are and this is what they stand for.”

The final appeal of the President of the Osservatorio was directed towards the educational sector. “We are currently witnessing the emergence of an educational change on a national scale and schools must embrace that change’s foundational driving force: the need to teach young people to reason for themselves. The development of a critical mind is one of the founding justifications for the existence of an educational system, and it does not exist simply to provide workers with adequate skills for their specific vocational futures”, continued Checcherini, “Our Quality Information in the Classroom project was conceived to serve this greater need. A project that has its own purpose and style, and that by encouraging the comparison of quality journalism responds to this societal demand, training the youth of today to reason, think and reflect, thereby rendering them freer and more complete citizens.

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