Love and passion… enough?

Posted: November 15, 2012 by jennroig in Articles, Chronicles, English
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

This is an old piece of informative journalism. I wrote it back in April 2011, when I was volunteering at the International Journalism Festival in Perugia, Italy. You can find the original post here.

The Festival has become one of the most respected arenas concerning the critical discussion about the state and craft of journalism, not only in Italy but around the world.

This piece, however, it aimed to review a press conference I attended, one of the most crowded by Italian and foreign journalist. And the reason explaining such popularity is that mostly, we journalist know the craft is in crisis, media are in crisis, and risks are not only technological and financial, but there’s a legitimacy crisis as well.

This piece show an overview about the lousy conditions in which Italian journalists and reporters have to do their jobs. Italian regulations over the craft, which originally aimed to help practitioners, have become a source of discrimination and abuse. A lot of us may well learn about Italian colleagues.

Photo property of Antonio Rossano

“If there is something we all share is the great love and passion we feel for this profession; but romance dies when stories like mine stand for the overall reality out there”. Francesca Ferrara opened in such a way one of the most polemical discussions held at the fifth edition of the International Journalism Festival in Perugia.

As a golden closure for the Festival, the debate about the current state determining the work conditions of a legion of Italian journalists attracted an eager audience. Young journalism students and not so young practitioners shared the space of Sala Lippi which seemed small to accommodate the attendants.

Roberto Natale, president of the National Federation of Italian Newspapers (FNSI in Italian acronyms) and Enzo Jacopino, president of the Ordine Nazionale dei Giornalismo, participated in the panel as representatives of key institutions for the regulation of the professional practice in Italy.

As representative of the many journalists working in inadmissible conditions throughout the nation were among others Raffaella Cosentino, a freelancer, Francesca Ferrara, blogger and freelancer, and Cristiano Tassari, journalist author of the book Volevo solo fare il giornalista.

Absurd salaries, abusive work contracts, disrespect to collaborators, freelancers, and young practitioners; and especially the question of what can be done to subvert the situation were common basis among the testimonials of the journalists in the panel and those from the public. “Information freedom and press freedom seem to be very popular topics nowadays, but it’s time to talk about money; five euro cannot be a fair payment”, Tassinari stressed.

As it was made clear during the session, Italy shows a very particular scene in terms of the regulation of the practice. On one side it is one of the few countries in the world where an institution with deontological goals like the Ordine is protected by law.

(cc: International Journalism Festival)

As an attempt to establish responsibilities, president Jacopino criticized a previous statement by Giulio Anselmi, director of ANSA. According the head of the Ordine, Anselmi’s words were not only damaging but misleading, as they pictured a fake enemy where it’s none. Conversely, he accused “the editors and owners of news media, whether they might be progressive or conservative, as the ones behaving almost like thieves, under paying collaborators and freelancers, treating them almost as slaves”. “In contrast to the poor payments to journalists, groups like Benedetti’s make millions every year”.

Natale supported Jacopino’s arguments and informed about several initiatives that the journalists’ union is putting forward, one of them a law draft to protect practitioners who are not working as part of media staff. “The law must dispose the cancellation of the financing to every media which refuses to open a contract and properly pay journalists”.

Whether or not such a law might be approved in nation whose prime minister is a media tycoon is about to be seen, as some people from the audience reflected. Natale and Jacopino also encourage journalists to formally state their testimonials and demands at the regional branches of the Ordine or the journalists’ union.

At the conclusion of the meeting, the question for what practical actions can be carried out to reverse the current situation and therefore to amend the future of the profession remained open.

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