Deceiving the deceiver – Umberto Eco ‘Numero Zero’ (a review)


‘News doesn’t need to be invented,’ I said ,’All you have to do is recycle it.

Dottor Colonna- the main character – became paranoid when his colleague stubbed to death one night and believe the killers are looking for him for the information he has about the conspiracy theory around the death of Mussolini.

Then the story begin with two months preparation of a new style of newspapers that he is involved with other his professor from college that he never graduated from and couple of others journalist including Maia, an entertainment journalist who dreams to be a more serious journalist. But Maia always being underestimated because she is a woman with an entertainment journalist background wrote nothing but gossiping life of celebrity and horoscope. No matter makes sense her view is, the big boss always told her, ‘work on your horoscope.’

Do you know why the newspaper collapses? It is because they publish news that the reader already saw on TV a night before. To be survived on this business, newspapers need to be predicted what is going to happen in the next day, like the horoscope. Put ‘if’ and play with the scenario of conspiracy theory. And that’s how Braggadocio started his theory on Mussolini death, instead working on prostitution story that he being told to do.

First Maia against everything that her boss trying to do with the headline because everything seems to be lie. But Simei always said that the readers are not that smarts, they are just skimming the news and tend to forget what they are just read. Who cares if it’s truth of not? Who cares if the newspapers appeared with Julius Cesar murders years after, and someone named as the suspect. Journalist and the spies have the same common, they trained to tell lies.

All the information and investigation that Braggadocio did suddenly appeared on BBC Documentary, few weeks after his deaths. ‘Then who was it said the truth shall set you free? Truth will make every other revelation seems like a lie.’Maia said

And here comes the lines from Maia that really in to me, ‘We’re immune: whenever they tell us some new story or other, we say we’ve heard worse, and claim it’s false. If the United States, half of Europe’s secret services, and our government and the newspapers have all lied, why shouldn’t the BBC have also lied? The only serious concern for decent citizen is how to avoid paying taxes and those in charge can do what they like.’

As I am studying Political Communications and just passed the lectures about media effects, agenda-setting, priming and framing that located within a cognitive processing of understanding the news, reading this novel is like going back to my notes of the lecture. Fictions is not totally fictions, it helps me sometimes to understand more clearly the non-fiction reading pack from the class and its fun. And what Umberto Eco trying to describe how the media is just a part of the deceiver, people live in lie after all. How social media makes us happy while at the same time we given away our freedom of privacy, being surveillance by the nation. Not all the news is lie, not all media and journalist deceiving the audience. But how to get the truth from the deceiving world around us, is to read as much as you can, don’t believe in only one source, talk and discuss everything you have been reading and gathered different view as much as you can and also nothing is 100% correct in this view either.

Again, Umberto Eco made me impress and breaking my ‘reading’ schedule and I love it.

umberto eco


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