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Ossigeno Third Annual Report.Threats are like drops that carve the stone

Now in english – Stories of over 300 threatened journalists in Italy – Who are, where they live, what they do, why are threatened and how. Here the introduction and a link to the full Report, translated by Silvia Cuomo under the supervision of Cristina Di Battista

OSSIGENO – Roma, 20 February 2013 – (…) The problem is apparent. In Italy many journalists receive strange “advices” every time they deal with inconvenient and delicate news, especially those disliked by powerful people.

Often in these cases someone comes out telling the reporter: “Let it go. Don’t publish the news. What’s the point?”. It happens even if the news clearly is of public interest. There always is someone who questions if the news is worth to be published. Some of them go further: they ask the journalist to evaluate the news based on non-journalistic criteria, like the personal convenience, the troubles they could cause to other people and to those who wrote them… It’s raining unrequested advices.Some people give them lightly. Some people give them with competence, with the best intentions and with truthful identification. Some other people give them to actually intimidate. We must be careful with this rain of advices. We must really understand, every time, why somebody gives us an advice, what does it bring to follow or not follow it, why in Italy hundreds of journalists are victims of interested advices. Who follows them is censored; who does not follow them is the target of retaliation, violence, punishments, detraction, exploitation, isolation.The attempts to hinder the work of journalists by means of violence, with devious threats and unrequested intrusion, have multiplied in last years.

The number of threats increased at an alarming speed, with the frequency and the effects we have described above. Poor attention has been paid on this phenomenon so far. Now it is impossible to keep watching without doing anything. Intimidation disguised as good advices, the real threats coming from the organised crime, from public personalities who do not accept criticisms and from those businessmen who work in the grey zone of abuses and illegality, have become a big problem for Italy. A problem that cannot be ignored.

This problem deals not only with journalists, but also with public rights and, thus, with the entire society. As the threats overshadow important news, they endanger the citizens’ right to be informed and to make aware choices. The present Report shows the alarming evolution of the phenomenon in 2011 and presents the possible remedies, such as some legislative reforms with zero costs, but high profits for freedom and democracy.

The number of cases of intimidation against journalists reported by Ossigeno has increased from 20 to 95 a year in only five years. The journalists involved have passed from 40 to 325 a year. Only five years ago, threats against journalists were isolated and rare episodes, or at least that is what they seemed. Just like the drops of our metaphor. Ossigeno per l’Informazione counted, between 2006 and 2008, twenty cases a year on average, a number emerged from an indirect observation realised reading the statements of solidarity and the available press cuttings.Later, in 2009,

Ossigeno started a more active research on cases and discovered that the phenomenon is more widespread. In 2010 the cases of intimidation verified by name were 54. In 2011 were 95. The increase is largely due to a change in the observation method, to the more active, more careful and more systematic research of the cases.

This said, we are facing an alarming progression, which is far more alarming considering that some of these threats hit groups of journalists, and sometimes entire newspaper staffs.Ossigeno calls them “collective” threats. These threats are like gunshots that hit not only the journalists who are in their sight, but also those around them. Ossigeno defines these collateral targets as “involved journalists” and consider them victims just like the principle target. There are many “involved journalists”. Their number increased eleven times in five years: from 30 in 2006, to 150 in 2009, to 250 in 2010, to 324 in 2011.

Ossigeno Third Annual Report: READ IT/ LEGGI

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