• A journalist in modern Italy

    Italy is ranked 49th in the World Press Freedom Index. The Netherlands came in 2nd place, so Italian journalist Emanuele del Rosso came to study in Groningen: 'Journalists need protection.'

    in short

    Emanuele del Rosso worked for two years for a newspaper in Italy.

    However, Italy exploits their young journalists with low salaries and without welfare. A photo pays no more than one euro.

    Also his articles were changed. His employers decided what was included in an article and what was inappropriate.

    He decided to come to Groningen, because in het Netherlands journalists are far more respected.

    Reform is needed and ‘journalists need protection from politicians’, says Emanuele.

    long version

    Leestijd: 3 min (950 woorden)

    Emanuele del Rosso was confused. Did his journalistic skills teacher really just tell his class to go outside and look for story ideas themselves?

    Emanuele never had to find stories on his own when he worked for a newspaper in Italy. ‘My experience is different. I was like an employee receiving assignments every day.’

    The 28-year-old Italian worked at a newspaper called Il Trentino, which is the daily newspaper of Trento, a city in northern Italy.

    Nowadays, he spends his days in the newsroom of the Journalism department of the University of Groningen. He is easily recognizable with his thick black hair and dark moustache. Like a good journalist-to-be, he chews on a pen and occasionally sips on his coffee.

    Media is controlled

    Following his teacher’s advice, Emanuele will go to The Hague this week for an assignment for the International Journalism Master: he will report on the Scottish expat community and their reaction to the outcome of the Scotland referendum.

    Initially, he came to Groningen to distance himself from the reporting practices in his home country. Italy is ranked 49th in the World Press Freedom Index due to the likelihood that the media is controlled to a certain extent.

    ‘The Netherlands are ranked in second place, and that’s why I came here’, explains Emanuele, who already has a degree in Philology and Literary Criticism.

    Emanuele hopes that his new study will focus on ethical journalism which is less linked to politics. Already two weeks into the master program, he has the impression that ‘journalists here are much more independent, and that journalism is considered as an important profession.’

    On the contrary, in Italy, newspapers exploit their young journalists with low salaries and without welfare, he explains. In the years Emanuele worked as a journalist in Italy, he earned an average of five euros for 80 lines of text and one euro for a photo. Moreover, he did not get any reimbursement for transportation.

    Italians do not trust the press

    Italian reporters are regulated by the so-called order of journalism. ‘The order of journalists is a powerful lobby that is strongly in contact with the political powers’, Emanuele says.

    ‘My articles were always changed a little.’ His employers decided what was included in an article and what was inappropriate. He was expected to focus on the plain facts without elaborating on certain issues. ‘I like being able to raise some questions about what is happening, but I wasn’t supposed to do that.’

    Moreover, the way the media was organized in Italy did not conform to Emanuele’s initial reason why he wanted to become a journalist. He wanted to write for the people and serve them by critically reflecting reality. But in Italy, he had the feeling that he served the system instead.

    Additionally, he agrees with the journalist Vittorio Zucconi who explained that ‘part of the love for this profession comes from an addiction to reading his or her name in a newspaper.’ That is another reason why Emanuele strives to be a journalist.

    However, since many Italians do not trust the press and the profession of the reporter has a mainly negative connotation in Italy, Emanuele also had a difficult time finding appreciation for what he was doing.

    Even though many connect the media in Italy with the word ‘corruption’, Emanuele thinks that is too strong. He would rather describe it as a ‘lack of independence.’

    What can be done?

    ‘My editor-in-chief at Il Trentino is a good journalist and a good person.’ But Emanuele thinks he is a victim of the system. He has a family and he needs to feed them, so he can’t help but to live with the issues in the management of the country.

    Emanuele does not want to name specific examples of how the media is controlled by politicians because that would mean indicting certain people. But he could give one national example that shows the extent of media bias: Emilio Fede, an anchorman, freely admitted to his preference for Silvio Berlusconi on national television – the channel which aired the show was owned by Berlusconi.

    Another example is that the heads of a right wing party, Augusto Minzolini or Giovanni Toti, are former journalists themselves. Their strong connections with media networks can easily be used to influence reporting.

    The question remains: what can be done to improve the state of journalism in Italy?

    Reform is needed and ‘journalists need protection from politicians’, says Emanuele. It is the entire political system that doesn’t care about real journalism.

    Some publications remain free

    In spite of the manipulation that goes on, he could still imagine going back to Italy to work as a journalist – a number of publications remain free from political influence. ‘Some newspapers follow a political line, but others do that less.

    But he has already started to fall in love Groningen: ‘It is a wonderful place and it is not raining, for now.’


    How to become a journalist in Italy

    Journalists-to-be can choose two ways to become a professional journalist in Italy:

    The first is to work at a newspaper for two years. After that, one can get the ‘Pubblicista Card’ (freelance card), entering in the order of freelance journalists. Then, you have to get an apprenticeship contract from a newspaper, which can be very difficult to obtain. But if you manage that, you can attend the national exam to become a professional journalist.

    The second way is attending a school of journalism. However, there are very few schools in Italy and they are expensive, costing around 20,000 euros for two years of education. With the journalism diploma, you can bypass the two years of employment at a newspaper as well as the apprenticeship.