The power of words: a few simple rules of writing for journalism.
The use of correct journalistic language to introduce news is a topic as current as thorny.
We know that most of the public opinion that bump into an article, stops at reading only the title to create their own critical judgment.
It is right to build your own idea, of course. But not without reading the entire content of the article.
The real problem, however, is how news is offered.
Journalism has a power as enormous as simple: words.
With these you can create very interesting starting points for discussion, you can open new horizons, but you can also create irreparable damage. Reputation or even someone’s life.
Everything depends on the correct use of journalistic language by the communicator.
It is forbidden to abuse those responsibility and power: no to magnify the meaning of simple words, no to the use of metaphors, labels or prejudices, just to package and sell own story as best you can.
It has just been said to use precise expressions to sell a story. Another crucial point is to use the right words for the right story.
So it is necessary to comply with official sources and versions, and not to inventive lies.
This happens: where the facts are missing, or part of them or some doubts arise, here is the resort to using fake news to solve the missing questions.
It could hardly be more mistaken.
The mediatization of a crime case
Public opinion is susceptible to all this, it is easily impressionable.
Unfortunately, touching the most sensitive point of people flaunting empathy always works.
However, people starts to believe in a realistic and not real story.
Like in the case of Milena Sutter and Lorenzo Bozano. The two absolute protagonists of our story, which took place in Genoa in the spring of 1971.
She, snatched from life at just thirteen years old and he, her alleged kidnapper and murderer hunted down by justice from the age of twenty-five.
She is “the child”, he is the famous “blondie of red spider”.
Almost fifty years later these labels are still well-known, easy to remember.
And what is known about what really happened? Few people know and remember the right and the true.
The Sutter-Bozano judicial case, since May 1971, has fallen into the media clutches, which have told of a very delicate fact that has reached us today in a rather distorted way.
The affair in the newspapers
The newspapers, particularly those in Genoa, were the first to catch the case in question.
They built an extraordinary narrative world using a terminological lexicon that had an important influence on public opinion.
From the very beginning the unfortunate protagonists have become real characters involved in a narrative framework that suddenly changed in the course of the investigations.
Milena disappeared on May 6, 1971 at 5 p.m., leaving the Swiss school.
At the news of her disappearance, the Genoese and national newspapers had no doubt: Milena had been kidnapped.
There was a ransom, so it was supposed to be a kidnapping for extortion.
A certainty that soon turned into doubt.
Questions about motive are related to the amount requested in exchange for Milena’s freedom.
Fifty million of the old Lire seemed too few for the daughter of a rich and well-known industrialist.
Another doubt was related to the dynamics of the kidnapping. It took place in broad daylight, could no one have seen her?
Then the hope that she did not fall into a trap at the hands of a maniac.
And then the scene changed. From the initial certainty of kidnapping to a sexual case.
An idea that has gradually taken the form of a concrete hypothesis.
The victim, Milena Sutter, was 13 years old and since her disappearance she was immediately depicted as a “kidnapped child”.
His name is ever-present in the headlines press, hard to forget.
She is considered close to all citizenship as a defenseless person, someone who was to be protected.
His presentation is of strong emotional impact, in which all parents can feel involved in the loss of a daughter.
On Lorenzo Bozano, 25 years old at the time of the events, there was a great imagination between prejudices and labels.
Even before to know his identity, the press had already nicknamed him “the blondie of red spider”.
As evidenced by an article of May 7, 1971 of Corriere Mercantile: “a young man with red spider noticed near the villa” and again “The stranger, blond with a mustache and long sideburns, was seen by the residents of the neighboring buildings repeatedly pass in front of the gates. Ongoing identification investigations”.
An accurate description, according to witnesses, but it does not coincide with reality.
Lorenzo Bozano, the only suspect, had neither blond hair nor was thin.
All the opposite: he had brown hair and a physical robust. It is true that he owned a red spider, but looking at it was more a scrap than a car.
It does not matter about these details, when the label “makes a splash”.
So from the testimonies of ordinary people, journalists seized the opportunity. They continued to distort facts and people with engaging descriptions, but neutral, objective and not even valid at all.
Not only that. Since Bozano began to appear in the newspapers, and in the media, there has been prejudices.
These regardless of the investigation, that has now passed into the background.
Suddenly he perfectly embodied all the features of a real “monster”. He was a violent person, a manipulator with an hidden agenda and a sexual deviant.
Trivial and unfounded prejudices, but excellent elements for sewing up a story that can attract and convince as many people as possible.
Especially if in support of this there are the descriptions by his father Paolo Bozano and the previous criminal history.
Since Lorenzo Bozano made his appearance he has become the first protagonist of the affair.
The victim and the dynamics of the fact have gone into the background.
From words to storytelling
The final and best known narrative scenario was that of the “blondie of red spider” who parked in the areas frequented by the young Sutter.
His purpose was to be able to get her attention to get her into his car with a deceptive excuse. Then to kill her and ask her family for a ransom.
Maybe to buy himself another car instead of the wreck one he owned.
Journalism, especially investigative journalism, is not a simple discipline.
Whoever does it has a great responsibility: making a correct storytelling by choosing precise words and considering the details.
It is not enough.
It is also necessary sensitivity, respect, professionalism and ability of multi-perspective vision and impartial critical analysis towards what is told and everything that includes: not only the facts, but the persons too.
Journalists should be people who be the intermediary to inform public opinion over time, not robot who sell of freshly baked stories.
The story of Milena Sutter and Lorenzo Bozano is the dramatic one that holds the primacy of the kind of judicial cases currently known.
It was the first of those cases that experienced pressing media trials, more than penal ones in a courtroom, where the importance of capturing the attention of the audience exceeded that of searching for the substantial truth of the facts.