Media, gossip and rumours

Inspector Montalbano has a communist friend, Niccolo Zito, who helps him reveal the levels of determinations behind a death by disrupting its unproblematic nature with his discussions about its circumstances. His interventions are highly intellectual. In the very first novel in this series, The Shape of Water, Zito, who is a critical media man, provides a very pertinent lesson on the function of media, and the disruptive role of rumours. This is particularly crucial for our age when media led by social media has become a technology to morph a news into a gossip. Here, we must underline the hush-hush nature of rumours, which is very different from the chirpiness of gossip, that we find in social media and the internet world.

“The quickest way to make people forget a scandal is to talk about it as much as possible, on television, in the papers, and so on. Over and over you flog the same dead horse, and pretty soon people start getting fed up. “They’re really dragging this out!” they say. “Haven’t we had enough?” After a couple of weeks the saturation effect is such that nobody wants to hear another word about that scandal…. If on the other hand, you hush everything up, the silence itself starts to talk, rumours begin to multiply out of control until you can’t stop them any more.(114-115)