Campania. Journalist expelled from the City Council
A commissioner has verbally attacked the reporter Ms Teresa Santillo, who is considering submitting a formal notice. “An unacceptable act, for which I ask a public apology”
“You’ve got to get out of here, you’re not a journalist, where’s your badge?” With these words, on 25th February, the professional journalist Ms Teresa Santillo, a collaborator of the daily Nuova Gazzetta di Caserta, was verbally attacked by the Environment councillor of San Tammaro (Caserta), Mr Gennaro Borrozzino. The fact occurred in the City Council Hall.
An attack that would have resulted – as the same journalist reconstructs – from an unsigned article in the Gazzetta dating, amongst other things, to two months earlier, and which covered alleged political patronage behaviours by some employees of the local health centre (ASL).
The journalist was shocked by the incident to the point of having to go to the hospital, after having suffered a sudden illness.
THE FACT – Mr Santillo had gone to the City Council of San Tammaro to take some photos of the official who performs the duties of town clerk, after rumours, later denied, of the official’s appointments to another municipality.
Indeed, on behalf of the Nuova Gazzetta di Caserta, the reporter, besides covering crime stories, also follows the activities of the administrations of eight municipalities in the Caserta region.
As she tells Ossigeno, “I was in the mayor’s office when suddenly, and aggressively, the commissioner Mr Borrozzino began to attacking me. At that point, and following the invitation of the town clerk, I moved to another room, but even here Mr Borrozzino pursued me and continued to rant inviting me to leave the City Hall. Some employees and the same officer got in between us and calm the commissioner, but to no end.”
A completely unexpected reaction “also because – as the journalist says – around here everyone knows me, and even the commissioner knows that I am a professional journalist who has been reporting on local facts.”
As Ms Santillo continues, “I think Mr Borrozzino felt offended by the article on the local ASL because he is an employee of that same structure. I did not write that article, but even if I did, this would not justify such an outrageous attack.”
SOLIDARITY OF THE COLLEAGUES – The reaction of many colleagues was immediate, including from other newspapers and online media, who wanted to express their closeness to the journalist. “I have to thank in particular the director, the publisher and the editorial staff of the Gazzetta who immediately made their voices heard”, she said.
“Actions of this kind – says the managing editor of the newspaper, Mr Giuseppe Bocchino – are part of a widespread itchiness to criticism of local administrators, as much a quasi-mafia-like climate that sees some politicians act outright”. Moreover, the Gazzetta is the same paper for which Ms Marilena Natale worked. She was the reporter who was attacked last December in front of the cement plant owned by the pentito Mr Carmine Schiavone.
Solidarity with Ms Teresa Santillo came from the FNSI, the Assostampa Campania and the Order of Journalists of Campania, who, “in condemning this act by a politician, demand that the municipal authority may be able to set a good example, clearly distancing itself from such behaviour and assuring the citizens of San Tammaro with the right to freedom of a plural and democratic information”.
A distancing that, at least for the moment, has not yet been announced officially, but as reported by the same journalist, “has occurred privately by the mayor, the deputy mayor and the chairman of the council”, while the opposition has demanded the resignation of Mr Borrozzino. “I’m still considering whether to file a formal notice to the police, for what I expect now is a public apology “ she concludes.