Keywords: Emergency and Free Speech; Media and Public Opinion; Communication; Pandemic.
The paper investigates the narrative presented by Italian institutions and mass media on the pandemic as well as the effects of this narrative on public opinion. In democratic systems, the pandemic has represented and still represents a challenge for the world of media and information. The narrative around the pandemic has monopolized media for months and the systems of institutional, journalistic and scientific communication have used unusual methods and tones. Furthermore, the right of citizens to receive accurate information on the pandemic has exacerbated the tension between the principle of free speech and the tendency to intervene on content posted online. Against this background, the article traces some significant events in the evolution of the pandemic, considers vices and virtues of Italian mass media and public communication systems, and verifies the effects on public opinion of the observed new methods and tones of communication. The current crisis is also an opportunity to study the health of the Italian information system and the resistance of freedom of speech during the emergency.