Mattarella hails ANSA on visit for agency's 75th anniversary

'Instrument of freedom of information' says president

(ANSA) - Rome, January 13 - President Sergio Mattarella hailed ANSA's contribution to Italian society as he visited the news agency's headquarters for its 75th anniversary on Tuesday.
    "75 years show that ANSA has been an instrument for the freedom of the press and of information in our country," he said as he met reporters, adding that news agencies deserve public support. "Guaranteeing information for news organs confers this activity with a public character," the head of State said.
    "Giving information to news organs is a decisive element for the democracy of our country.
    "This makes one understand the need for support from the public institutions. Press freedom is one of the founding principles of democracy and our constitution".
    Mattarella was given the first ANSA flash on his election on January 31 2015, during the visit. The photo of the Italian parliament's applause for the 12th Italian president was also presented to the head of State.
    Mattarella also said news agencies had a fundamental role to play against fake news.
    "Verifying news is the tradition of the great agencies," he said.
    "This is ever more important, also because we are in the season of fake news, with which it is easy to construct news and headlines that disorient, that don't correspond to reality".
    "This is a responsibility, always supplying prompt and timely news with credibility and authoritativeness.
    "All the more authoritative you are, all the more is news confirmed.
    "There is a virus that is circulating among the multiple news outlets of our country, and not only that, the fear of being scooped on news. So you have to avoid the temptation of rushing after a headline without making the indispensable checks".
    Mattarella concluded his visit by saying "this visit to ANSA is testimony of the interest of the institutions and whosoever feels these needs of democracy in our country.
    "I'm a user of your dispatches, ANSA is a formidable instrument, a point of reference," he said. Editor-in-Chief Luigi Contu showed Mattarella a 'ready-made page' highlighting his visit.
    "When I started reading press roundups it was all very different," the president quipped, referring to the fact that newspapers were printed 'live'.
    ANSA President Giulio Anselmi said "our challenge is to get there first, with precision and accuracy. Independence, objectivity and autonomy are the hallmarks of our work".
    Upon arrival the president was received by Anselmi, Contu and Chief Executive Stefano De Alessandri.
    He met the members of the board and visited a small exhibition on transmission equipment, starting from those used in the early post-war period, documenting how technology has speeded up the broadcasting of news over the decades. Mattarella ended his visit by visiting the agency's newsroom to meet ANSA's reporters. Italy's top news agency started transmitting on January 15, 1945.
    ANSA, whose headquarters are just a few steps away from the presidential palace, il Palazzo del Quirinale, is a cooperative made up of the publishers of Italy's top daily newspapers.