Director complains: who stopped the printing presses in Cosenza?
Mr Luciano Regolo of L’Ora di Calabria had just refused the publisher’s request to remove an article. The FNSI and the Order protest
The director of the newspaper from Cosenza L’Ora di Calabria, Mr Luciano Regolo, denounced in a press conference in the afternoon of February 19th that his paper was not on sale at newsstands because it was not possible to print it. As the printer himself explained, there was a technical failure in the rotary press. But the director does not believe such a motivation, and speaks of “an intolerable and unjust action” carried out to prevent the printing of that edition of the newspaper, decided after his refusal to remove an article at the request of the publisher.
THE COMPLAINT – “Last night something very serious happened against the freedom of the press, the violation of the most elementary rules of democracy and civil life” Mr Regolo said. “After completing the newspaper, at a late hour – he added – the publisher (Mr Alfredo Citrigno) asked me if it was possible to remove the article relative to the ongoing investigation on the son, Andrea, of the senator Mr Tonino Gentile, who has been charged with the offenses of abuse of office, ideological fraud and conspiracy”, in an investigation that involved the provincial health authority of Cosenza.
“Insisting in the defense of the freedom of the press”, Mr Regolo added, “I threatened the publisher himself with my resignation if I had been forced to change the newspaper, thus frustrating my work and that of my colleagues.”
Furthermore, as Mr Regolo continues explaining, the printer, Mr Umberto De Rose, also tried to convince the publisher not to publish the news, reminding him that “the boar, when wounded, kills everyone”. Since I reiterated to the publisher that I did not intend to censor what has been written in any way, we then parted. It was Mr De Rose who, after having called the newsroom insistently, only at two o’clock in the morning said that the newspaper could not be printed due to a technical fault with the rotary press.”
The journalist denounced the incident, and asked the Prosecutor of Cosenza to shed light on “the pressures, even through third parties, that the senator Mr Gentile enacted so as to ensure that the inquiry on his son wasn’t going to be divulged”.
The editorial board of L’Ora di Calabria expressed “outrage at the pressures faced by the newspaper, and that have prevented its publication”.
THE PRINTER’S REPLY – The entrepreneur Mr Umberto De Rose responded to the Director denying that the fault is fake, because if he wanted to block printing he would not have had to wait until two o’clock in the morning, “when the fault could have been simulated at any moment”. “I want to reiterate that the publisher is the only one to have a power over the editors, and certainly not the printer” he added.
THE PUBLISHER’S REPLY – “I asked to the director to verify the truthfulness and correctness of the news regarding the investigation against the son of the Senator Mr Gentile”, Mr Alfredo Citrigno, publisher of the newspaper, replied. “At the origin of my question was the fact that no other swebsite, newspaper or news agency in Calabria had published the news.”
“Mr Regolo replied by saying that he was in possession of the relevant documents and therefore decided to go ahead and publish the article. The fact that the newspaper wasn’t printed and, therefore, distributed to newsstands certainly did not depend on me. Indeed, the failure to publish was for me a financial loss” he added.
FNSI – The National Federation of the Press and the Calabrian union of journalists have described the incident to the rotary printer as “disturbing”, and called for “the competent authorities to shine a light on the incident for the purpose of clarity and serenity of those who provide information in the region, because the incident, if it really was committed, is accompanied by too many ambiguous, if not skewed, circumstances”.
As can be read in the joint statement, “the FNSI and Journalists Union of Calabria denounce with concern and alarm the story of the non-publication of the daily L’Ora and place themselves alongside the colleagues of the newspaper and the citizens who are in need of a press free of manipulations, censorship and from any form of improper pressure and intimidation”.
THE AGENDA – The pressures reported by Mr Regolo “plastically represent the situation of difficulty, weakness and, in some cases, degradation in which the publishing world of Calabria is forced to operate”, the president of the Regional Order of Journalists of Calabria, Mr Giuseppe Soluri, said. For him, the episode shows that “when the ownership of a newspaper is linked to interests that are not purely editorial, but are also to some extent directly dependent on political choices, it is easy to imagine what and how much pressure a director or an editorial staff are subjected to on a daily basis and how difficult it is to defend the freedom spaces that the press must have.”