Whether you are an appasionte reader of my blog or you have just decked here, this final post will help you put in order all the articles I have been publishing since February 2011. Here you can find a Table of Contents reproducing the order in which all the articles are published on the paper copy of my capstone project.
By clicking on “Chapter #” you will be directed to the category that groups together all the articles in that chapter. By clicking on the title of the single article, instead, you will be directed to the actual article/post.
The “Appendix 1” corresponds to the page “Photographs” you can see in the upper right corner of this blog, right under the title. There, you will find all the photogalleries I published. Finally, don’t forget to take a look at the “Bibliography,” where you can directly access all the web resources I used to conduct this research on the changing nature of journalism.
Click on, “Read more…” to look at the actual table of contents!
“Change is inevitable. Change is hard. Change is good. Change is rarely recognized in time. Change is life.” I began my publication with this quotation of Jeff Jarvis and, with this quotation, I want to conclude it. These words, in fact, are a nice and concise summary of my whole research project. Change in journalism is still a confusing phenomenon. It is inevitable, as the Internet continues to broaden the way we can pass on information beyond our expectations. It is hard, because, as we have seen in this research, the print industry is heavily suffering the loss of revenue, sales and readers. However, change is also good, because it is life. The developments of journalism and the spread of the Internet have also created new opportunities for people to express themselves.
I am aware that, in this blog, I didn’t talk about the development of citizen journalism, which, in Italy as in the rest of the world, is one of the biggest, and most interesting, consequences of the advent of the Internet. But I preferred to focus on those problems Italian journalism is facing since the introduction of computers in newsrooms in the 1980s: the changes in newswriting, the loss of readers and the declining professional level of news content. I also focused on the developments of a new type of Italian journalist and the problems this new generation of aspiring professional is facing while approaching an obsolete and saturated market.
In the last chapter of my publication, I wanted to suggest that this so-called crisis of Italian journalism rather than being connected to an economic issue is connected to an ethical problem. Big newspaper and media companies lack independence in Italy. And this political and industrial intrusion in journalism is destroying its watchdog function and its quality. Italian journalism can really survive only if it shrugs off its shoulders the interference of politicians and industrialists who use the press to serve their own interests. Otherwise, newspapers will continue to lose readers.
When I created this survey, I wanted to answer the following questions: Do Italians still buy printed newspapers? How many people still purchase their morning daily? How many read the news online? I wanted to understand who buys newspapers and who doesn’t. And, for those who don’t, why. The main interest is to investigate whether or not printed newspapers are still popular in Italy.
My first research question was: Do you regularly buy a newspaper? Respondents could answer with a “yes,” a “no” or with “no, because I have a newspaper subscription.” Based on the answer the online survey directed respondents to different questions. On the print survey, instructions directed respondents to the right question.
Those who answered question 1 with a “yes,” then moved to question 2a – How often do you buy a newspaper? Those who answered question 1 with a “no,” then moved to question 2b – Why don’t you regularly buy a newspaper? Those who answered “no, because I have a subscription,” then moved to question 3 – Do you have any newspaper/magazine subscriptions?
On October 3, 2009, thousands of people gathered in Piazza del Popolo in Rome to support their right to free information in what Reporters without Borders Secretary-General Jean-François Julliard called “the biggest demonstration in defense of press freedom ever held in the world.” If this may seem a hyperbolic statement, let’s just stick to the facts: the whole square and its surrounding streets in the center of Rome were packed with people, an estimated 300,000 according to Il Sole 24 Ore. The demonstration had a critical role in drawing international attention to the lack of press freedom in Italy.
The fact that the Federazione Nazionale della Stampa decided to organize such a demonstration and that so many people decided to attend suggests that something is really going on in Italy. It means that there is a recognized threat to Article 21of the Italian Constitution, which reads: “Tutti hanno diritto di manifestare liberamente il proprio pensiero con la parola, lo scritto e ogni altro mezzo di diffusione. La stampa non può essere soggetta ad autorizzazioni o censure.” Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization based in Washington DC, has downgraded Italy to “partly free” country, ranking it 72nd along with Benin, Hong Kong and India.
Before reading this article, make sure you know what the Ordine dei Giornalisti is and what it does, by clicking here.
Back in 1997, the Italian Radical Party was able to gather enough signatures to propose a referendum on the abolition of the Ordine dei Giornalisti (ODG). The referendum failed to reach the quorum, but it triggered a heated debate on whether the ODG should be abolished or not. The debate actually dates back to the 1940s, when the Federazione della Stampa decided to keep the 1928 fascist law. In 1945, Luigi Einaudi, one of the most famous Italian journalists and second President of the Republic, wrote that “the mandatory register would resurrect castes and closed corporations, inclined to the wills of tyrants and arch-enemies of young people, rebels and non-conformists.”
A few months before the referendum in 1997, a heated debate took place on the pages of Il Sole 24 Ore, Italy’s most influent financial newspapers, where two journalists – Franco Abruzzo and Vincenzo Zeno Zencovich – confronted each other; the former in support of the ODG, the latter against it. As he reiterated later in time, Abruzzo claimed back then that the repeal of the law 69/1963 would abolish journalism codes of ethics and would leave journalists without any protection, under the influence of politicians and economic powers. According to Abruzzo, without the ODG, journalists would be subject to article 2105 of the Civil Code, whereby they would be considered as simple employees loyal to their companies, while journalists must be absolutely independent.
Italy is an anomalous country. And one of its most dangerous anomalies concerns newspaper ownership. Business, economic and political interests within the press favor censorship, thus destroying press freedom in a 21st-century, Western country. Even though, in Italy, we have a joke that, whatever happens, it is Berlusconi’s fault, for once, I can proudly admit that the problem is not only Silvio Berlusconi and his conflict of interests. Conflict of interest concerns all major Italian media groups and news organizations, such as RCS, L’Espresso editorial group, Fininvest, Caltagirone editore and many others. Of course, Berlusconi is part of it, but he is not the major player as he is in television. The type of political and business control concerning the press is even more dangerous. Italian newspapers are affected by an astonishing ethical crisis that is far from being solved.
Press freedom in Italy has always been fragile and tamed by powerful politicians, whether Napoleon or Mussolini. However, it is worrisome that after so many centuries, wars and dictatorships, journalism has failed to regain its complete independence. This fact still surprises foreign journalists. In his book L’Informazione Spettacolo, Felice Froio gives voice to the historical El Pais journalist Juan Arias, who escaped dictator Franco’s Spain and came to live in Italy as a foreign correspondent. Arias wrote that “the intertwining between politics and journalism is one of the cancers of Italian journalism.” He complained that, in Italy, journalism is completely tied to power: “every journalist had been accepted because of a politician’s recommendation and to that politician, in one way or another, the journalist had to respond.”