Thursday, September 24, 2009

Italian news

This week a group of respected Italian journalists launched a new nationwide newspaper. Il Fatto Quotidiano is something so rare in the Italian media world as a newspaper that is independent of political and commercial interests. It does not even accept the government aid given to all media, but will be funded solely through subscriptions, retail sales and ad revenue. The goal is to practice critical and investigative journalism.

Both the economic foundation and the goal seem ambitious in view of conditions in Italy. Italians are not the world's most eager consumers of newspaper, and politicians and rulers find it exceedingly hard to accept negative press coverage. Less than a month ago, Berlusconi announced that he would take legal action against national and international media that have mentioned his colourful personal life. An initiative which articolo21, fighting for greater freedom of speech in Italy, and the International Federation of Journalists (EFJ)characterize as a direct attack on the free press.

Berlusconi has brought charges against La Repubblica for having asked him ten questions about his relationship with various women. L'Unita has been sued for reporting from a Puglian court case involving a local contractor, Berlusconi and some call girls, and lawyers are reportedly also working on an indictment of British newspapers. At the same time Il Giornale, owned by Berlusconi's brother, has brought a hard personal attack on the editor of the Catholic newspaper Avvenire as 'punishment' for Avvenire’s alleged moral campaign against Berlusconi.

Berlusconi will simply not accept media interest in his divorce, his participation in 18-year birthdays, his visitors in Sardegna, or his dates with escort girls. And he has power and the funds needed to get his way. The question now is whether he has public support, or whether Italians are more susceptible to the daily facts presented by eg. Il Fatto.

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