The Carabinieri: Faithful in Their Marriages

Sometimes, it is not a news story itself that is particularly noteworthy, but it is how a news agency chooses to present that story. Such is the case with a brief Reuters article about the Carabinieri, Italy’s military police force.

The Supreme Court of Cassation passed down a ruling stating that the members of the Carabinieri should not have extra-marital affairs so as to eschew any tarnishing of the force’s reputation. After all, the Carabinieri motto is Nei Secoli Fedele (in English, “Faithful throughout the Centuries”). A policeman can’t claim to be faithful if he is cheating on his wife, can he?

The story itself is slightly interesting but not really all that important, although it is nice to see Italy’s highest court affirming the importance of people in the public eye keeping their marriage vows.

But the reason I am talking about this story at all is Reuters’s reporting of it. I found it curious that Reuters chose to place its report of the Italian court’s ruling in the “Oddly Enough” category. Reuters regularly features quirky stories under that category; I have blogged about a few of them before (such as here and here). But should a court ruling that says military police must not “bring discredit to the armed forces with extra-marital relationships” really be classified as “odd”?

Even worse, the article’s headline, “Court says military police can’t have lovers,” is entirely inaccurate. The Court of Cassation declared that members of the Carabinieri could not have mistresses; it said nothing about lovers in general. Surely, Reuters is not implying that the policemen were ordered to be celibate. Or does Reuters think that spouses cannot be lovers?

The article’s reporting is credited to Deepa Babington and the editing to Giles Elgood. Both should be embarrassed by the sloppy choice of words.

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