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Editor of Ora Calabria: “subservient mentality is damaging”

Mr Luciano Regolo has denounced the pressures received for preventing the publication of an unwelcome news story and the blocking of the printing of the newspaper: “may the Prosecutor investigate now”, he asks

“It is intolerable that such pressures are applied to a young publisher, who is, among other things, going through a delicate moment because of the difficulties that his family is facing” (read here and here): the editor of the daily newspaper from Cosenza L’Ora della Calabria, Mr Luciano Regolo, after denouncing the impossibility of having the newspaper in newsstands on February 19th (officially because of a failure to the printing rotary), delves into the incident by reporting the damage caused by a subservient mentality and returns on the request that the Prosecutor sheds light on the matter. In any case, he told Ossigeno, “I’m considering whether or not to report the incident”.

THE PRINTING BLOCK – “On the evening of February 18th, while the paper was closed, the publisher (Mr Alfredo Citrigno) saw me get out of the newsroom and invited me to eat a pizza”, Mr Regolo said. The two, as recounted in two opinion columns (read here and here), discussed about a piece about to be printed in which it reported the involvement in a criminal investigation of the lawyer Mr Andrea Gentile, son of the senator from the Nuovo Centro Destra (New Centre-Right party) Mr Tonino. Mr Citrigno “wondered whether there were the necessary documents, for it would otherwise have been better to postpone” the publication, Mr Regolo wrote.

Mr Citrigno told Mr Regolo of a few phone calls he received during the day in which he was asked information about that article. Those phone calls, as the same publisher explains in a statement, were insistent and “deeply troubled him”. While they were in the car, the publisher received the phone call of the entrepreneur who prints the newspaper, Mr Umberto De Rose. “I heard what he said because he was on speaker. I also recorded it”. He then asked the publisher to prevent the publication of the piece on Mr Gentile. “He was saying: ‘You need to reassure me that this thing is for the good of all’. He was trying to establish a subservience which did not exist”, Mr Regolo said. “Despite this, I came home at 01:30 and was convinced that everything was ok”. Instead, shortly after, Mr De Rose warned that the newspaper could not be printed due to a breakdown.

A few hours later, however, the printing press was running again: “I called the next morning and they told me it was okay”, Mr Regolo said.

THE UNWELCOME NEWS – The article on Mr Gentile, the director continues, “is just a piece of news, which tells of an excerpt of a wider investigation. It was my choice to avoid placing any kind of comment”: the article, signed by the journalist Mr Saverio Paletta and finally published the following day, says that the attorney is being investigated for abuse of office, fraudulent misrepresentation, fraud, conspiracy and issuance of non-existent invoices.

“In any case, I do not understand a reaction like this: if you have to say about an article, there are legal means to retaliate. It is possible to request for a correction, or even sue”, Mr Regolo said, thus confirming the good relationship with the publisher: since he took office on December 23rd of last year there have never been any problems or interferences.

The publisher has rejected any suggestion of involvement in the alleged forced blockade of the publication: “I have nonetheless decided not to give in to those demands and to take the side of my reporters who I urge, now, to continue on the path already taken and in full and absolute autonomy”, he announced.

A MENTALITY ISSUE? – According to Mr Regolo, the episode reveals that “here in Calabria there is a certain subservience towards certain characters. This kind of mentality is damaging” he says.

For the journalist of Il Sole 24 Ore and organized crime expert Mr Roberto Galullo, to actually be a journalist in the region is today almost impossible: “physical death is the last of problems: all you need is a subtle breeze of delegitimizing calumnies, let it travel on the usual currents of power and that, for journalists, is tantamount to eternal death” he wrote on his blog, commenting on the episode of the L’Ora della Calabria.

“To be free and independent in Calabria is a burden that is no longer sustainable for the individual journalist, for the simple reason that there is no public opinion capable of sharing it. To have a clear conscience and still report news is still possible: as long as you know that, sooner or later, it will be muddied… So things are in Calabria, where rights become favours, and reason is transformed into a cause for guilt”, he concludes.

REACTIONS – Following the protests from the Order and the Union of journalists (read here), the story was picked up by many newspapers, ending up in major newspapers and provoking the reaction of some political figures.

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