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Agcom on threats to journalists. Dramatic difference between regions

A map of spatial data on intimidation produced by the Observatory Ossigeno per l’Informazione and developed by the Authority for Communications

According to the AGCOM, the Italian Authority of Communications, data on threatened journalists published by Ossigeno per l’Informazione reveal, among other things, “a dramatic gap in the country that can not but have an effect on the quality and quantity of information, especially at the local level, present in the different regions of Italy. If also the strong links between information and fairness of the process of scrutiny and selection of the political class is taken into account, this situation appears likely to produce effects not only on the economic and social aspects, but also on the overall democratic hold of some important areas of our country.”

By analyzing the spatial distribution of threats, the AGCOM report, which will be presented to the public on Tuesday, June 16th, 2015 at 15:30 in the Chapter Hall of the Senate (see here), emphasizes “that, although the three regions with the highest rate of threats to journalists, according to the data available from 2011 to 31 December 2014, are, in the order, Lazio, Campania and Lombardy”, “there are other regions where the profession is more seriously in danger”, such as Basilicata, Sicily, Calabria and Campania: regions in which the percentage of threatened journalists compared to those professionally and economically “active” varies between 10 and 16 percent.

Below there are the verbatim of pages 63, 64 and 65 of the final report of the “Survey on information and the Internet in Italy. Business Models, consumption and professions”, conducted in 2014-2015 by the Authority for Communications AGCOM. The full report is Available at this link. The map was produced by AGCOM.

Journalists threatened

The question of freedom of expression of journalists merits an investigation of an analysis aimed at protecting pluralism of information. In this framework, the association Ossigeno per l’Informazione has created, since 2006, the Observatory on threatened reporters and obscured news in Italy. The Observatory was founded from an initiative of the Italian National Press Federation (FNSI) and the Order of Journalists so as to monitor threats and abuses against Italian journalists, with particular attention to the reporters at the forefront of the observation of organized crime in the south of the peninsula. The Observatory is a consultant to the Parliamentary Anti-Mafia Commission, and works closely with the Representative of Freedom of the Media of the OSCE, the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Council of Europe, Freedom House, Reporters Sans Frontieres, the European Association of Journalists (AEJ), the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York, and the International Press Institute in Vienna. The Observatory has also collaborated with the Authority for the preparation of the present study, providing data, information and reports. The AGCOM notes that in Molise and Apulia, the figures are lower “but equally dramatic”: between 6 and 8 percent. To make this spatial data perceived clearly, the Authority has represented regional data in a map, giving more intense shades of red to the regions whith the most threatened journalists.

The Association pursues two objectives since its founding (from the 2006-2008 Ossigeno Report): “The first goal is to check the number and geographical distribution of threatened reporters, marking a register of risky situations accompanied by the description of the causes and dynamics. The second objective is to promote within public offices and institutions, and in particular within the category of journalists, an attentive debate on the character of the problem and possible remedies.”

The Observatory publishes on its website, since 2011, the lists of names of journalists subjected to threats, as well as a threats counter that is updated weekly. The data are partially available since 2006, and with specific details by region since 2011 (see note 126). The data collected in January 2015 have surveyed 2,220 threatened journalists, in total from 2006 to today, marking an increase of 75 units in the last months (46 journalists this year, i.e. in the first months of 2014; and 29 journalists for incidents that occurred in previous years but have been recently discovered, editor’s note). It obviously worthy to recall that behind every act of intimidation documented by the Observatory, many more remain unknown (Ossigeno estimated that in 2011 the ratio was 1 to 10), therefore indicating that the number produced is certainly lower than the actual extent of the phenomenon. The threats have been cataloged for analytical purposes as: physical assault; damages; obstacle to information; warnings; complaints and lawsuits; each of which has as many subcategories the detailed description of which is explained on the Observatory’s website (http://notiziario.ossigeno.info/tutti-i-numeri-delle-minacce/dati-giornalisti- minacciati/).

What here needs to be emphasized, in the light of the geographical distribution of registered journalists, as shown above, as well as the distribution of those considered active according to the criteria mentioned above, is that, although the three regions with the highest rate of threats to journalists, to the data available from 2011 to 31 December 2014 are, in the order, Lazio, Campania and Lombardy, each with a total number of threats above 250, the regions where the profession is more seriously threatened are others (regardless on the type of threat, given which, however, could dramatically confirm this interpretation) (see. Figure 18). Basilicata, Sicily, Calabria and Campania are in fact the areas where those being subjected to threats, over the years, are about, respectively, 4.4% of the registered journalists, 3.2%, 3.17% and 2.5%. If the analysis moves to the percentage of active journalists (see above) the figure becomes dramatic since the numbers of the threatened rise to 16.4% of active journalists in Basilicata, 14.8% in Campania, 13.6% in Calabria and 10.6% in Sicily, followed by Molise and Apulia, with lower yet equally dramatic data (8.5% for Molise and 6.7% Apulia). This highlights a dramatic gap in the country which can not but have an effect on the quality and quantity of information, especially at the local level, present in the different regions of Italy. If the strong links between the information and the fairness of the process of scrutiny and selection of the political class are also taken into consideration (see Chapter 1), this situation is likely to produce not only economic and social effects, but also on the overall democratic hold in certain important areas of our country.

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Note 126: These figures have been processed for example in the investigation Stories of Threatened Journalists (www.giornalistiminacciati.it), a project carried out in 2012 through the challenge “high impact civic multimedia inquiry” by the Ahref Foundation.


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