“Insults and threats arrive for every inconvenient piece of news. Providing local information is increasingly difficult”, says Sonia Meloni, director of “Cronache Nuoresi”
OSSIGENO April 7th 2022 – The lawsuit against a 22-year-old man who had threatened and insulted her on social media was withdrawn by Sonia Meloni, director of Cronache Nuoresi, after he apologized publicly for the intimidating message he had sent her.
THE INCIDENT – In 2020 Marco Carboni, 22, had written privately to Sonia Meloni threatening her for an article which reported on an important law enforcement operation in the area. The journalist had denounced the author of the message and the judge had issued a summons for the young man. Then there was a turning point. But in Nuoro the hostility against newspapers that publish unwelcome news remains high.
SOLIDARITY – Sonia Meloni explains to Ossigeno why she accepted the apology: “I wanted to make a gesture of mitigation because I appreciated this young man’s public apology. In court I was accompanied by Celestino Tabasso, president of the Sardinian Press Association who also undertook to bear the legal costs. I immediately felt the solidarity of the professional Order “.
But the difficulties are not over, the journalist continued: “The fear and anguish remain; I no longer do this job which I love deeply in serenity. At the newspaper, we also had to remove the editorial WhatsApp because we received insults and threats for any news considered inconvenient. Providing local information is increasingly difficult “.
THE COMMENT – Ossigeno expresses solidarity with Sonia Meloni and appreciates her choice both to report the attacker and to withdraw the complaint when she received her public apology. This is the conduct recommended by Ossigeno (read here) and it is productive (see examples). It is important that this courageous journalist found her professional Order alongside her and it is even more important that the regional Press Association offered to concretely express collective solidarity by paying legal her fees. It rarely happens. Now more should be done to deal with the serious intimidating pressure denounced by the editor of Cronache Nuoresi. Local newspapers and journalists are the weakest media in the face of the crisis in the publishing sector and are the most exposed to the intimidating pressures that make publishing discomforting news risky. The threats and spurious lawsuits are even more conditioning in the local context when they strike a small editorial office and journalists who do not have a robust publisher to support them. Ossigeno has already voiced the alarm of these journalists several times, most recently with the dramatic alarm launched in chorus from Calabria, on March 2nd 2021, by five newspapers together with the trade union and the regional order of journalists.
This alarm is so far without an adequate response. We need to find a way to save all the local newspapers and editorial offices and thus jobs. We need to preserve the right to publish even those true, public interest news stories that annoy the powerful and coercers so much. These news stories are like the salt on food: they add flavour to journalism.