Italy. More and more female journalists threatened: 105 in 2021, 27% of the total

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Who are they, what do their stories – collated by Ossigeno which in 2022 devoted more attention and assistance to intimidation including gender discrimination 

OSSIGENO March 7th 2022 – In Italy, among journalists, women are very often the target of intimidation, threats, and retaliation and frequently there is a sexist component in these attacks. The examples are numerous.

Vanessa Valvo was sued for libel for having written in a newspaper that a co-operative that managed public parks had been searched as part of the Mafia Capitale investigation (read here).

Alessia Truzzolillo followed the hearings of the maxi-trial of mafia “Rinascita Scott” for the Corriere della Calabria and for the press agency Ansa, when the head of a police escort, abruptly chased her out of the courtroom because she was taking pictures which was allowed. (read here).

Giulia Gogiali was shooting video for a live broadcast on the Facebook page of the online newspaper Il Faro when she was verbally attacked though subsequently receiving an apology (read here).

Nancy Porsia, together with other journalists, was wire-tapped for months by the Prosecutor of Trapani, without ever being investigated, during the investigations into the trafficking of migrants (read here).

Stefania De Cristofaro was acquitted of the charge of libel sued by a lawyer who had asked her for damages for two very accurate articles which he did not appreciate (read here).

Antononella Alba was attacked while filming a demonstration against the EU Digital COVID Certificate on her smartphone (read).

These are just some examples taken from the accounts told to Ossigeno in recent months; stories of female reporters attacked, intimidated, and sued for libel with the aim of silencing them. Even in 2022, female media workers continue to be frequent targets.

THE DATA – There are 105 women representing 27% of the 384 media workers subjected to threats and intimidation in 2021 in Italy. The non-governmental organisation Ossigeno per l’informazione (Oxygen for Information) publishes these data, updating those released in December 2021 (read here), on the occasion of International Women’s Day, to reflect on the abuses suffered by female media workers. This annual figure, 105, is the highest recorded to date since 2006, the year in which Ossigeno began the monitoring of attacks on journalists. The graph has curved upwards compared to more recent years. In 2021 threatened female media workers represented 26%, in 2020 22%, in 2019 23%, in 2018 21%.

MOST FREQUENT THREATSOssigeno was able to conduct out a meticulous and detailed verification of 33 cases out of these 105. The analysis shows that it is the so-called reckless complaints that affect women who work in the media. Abusive use of complaints and legal action is, in fact, the most frequent type of threat for 2021 (equal to 55%); in 2020 there was a sharp decline, equal to 6%, whilst instead in 2019 it stood at 33%. Physical and verbal attacks (equal to 18%) are the second most widespread type of threat, but have decreased compared to the previous year (in 2021 they were 26% and in 2019 they represented only 10%). Warnings (insults, death threats, threatening phone calls), which in 2020 amounted to 48% (45% in 2019), dropped to 15%; and obstructed access to information amounts to only a few cases and stands at 12%.

The Italian region in which the highest number of threatened media workers is recorded is Lazio (33%) a trend in line with the overall national figure. Puglia, Sicily and Lombardy follow with equal prevalence (12%). Instead, the regions where proportionally the highest intimidation pressure is recorded (understood as the percentage of those threatened relative to the local journalist population) are Sicily and Calabria.

GENDER DISCRIMINATION – These data and the journalists’ stories tell us that it is necessary to reflect on the phenomenon and to pay attention to any gender discrimination. The first cases recorded in 2022, in particular those of Chiara Ciurlia who suffered sexist insults online, and Greta Beccaglia harassed by a football fan live on television outside the stadium; demonstrate the extent to which gender discrimination and threats addressed can be correlated with female media workers.

THE MAP PROJECT – In 2022 Ossigeno pays even more attention to this aspect of the problem to make more widely recognized gender-based violence with intimidation, threats, and hate speech. To this end, the Ossigeno Observatory will develop in-depth analyses of the pattern of threats aimed at female journalists and will provide them with assistance to overcome the difficulties they encounter. The results will be presented and discussed at the next edition of the Forum of Female Journalists of the Mediterranean which collaborates in the achievement of these insights which are among the objectives of the Ossigeno M.A.P. (Monitor Assist and Protect) Project, created in collaboration with UNESCO within the framework of the Global Media Defence Fund (GMDF). The GMDF is a UNESCO Multi-Partner Trust Fund; part of the global campaign for media freedom within the UN’s action plan for the safety of journalists and the issue of impunity. The GMDF was developed with the aim of facilitating media freedom and improving access for journalists to specialized legal protection sensitive to gender diversity.


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