Italy. The last Ossigeno’s monitoring figures

From August to October 2018, Ossigeno reported 97 serious attacks against 179 giornalists and other media operators carried out with the purpose of hindering freedom of expression


131 possible threats were detected, of which:

23 threats against 34 journalists and other media operators were fact-checked

74 threats against 145 journalists and other media operatorswere reported as highly probable

34 threats were discarded as false episodes or because they did not fall into any of the Ossigeno’s categories of attack.

From 1st August to 31st October 2018, Ossigeno per l’Informazione collected 131 hints of serious and unjustified attacks against journalists, bloggers and other media operators in Italy, and reported 97 of them, referring names and details for each episode concerned. Among them, 23 episodes against 34 journalists and other media operators wre selected following a priority list that takes into account the most serious attacks and the public interest. Then, they were fact-checked applying the complex screening of the Ossigeno’s Method (read). Other 74 cases against 145 journalists and other media operators were considered highly probable violations of the right to freedom of expression. Nonetheless, they were reported with the same details. These last 74 episodes have not been fact-checked yet, because all Ossigeno’s experts were already fully engaged in fact-checking the 33 most serious violations. The other 34 over 131 episodes were discarded as false episodes.

Each attack against a media operator classified by Ossigeno is related to a crime, an illicit or an abuse and, at the same time, a violation of the right to freedom of expression and of the free access to information of public interest.

MORE NEWS REPORTED BY MEDIA – One of the main effects that the Ossigeno’s fact-checked monitoring is its caèacity to show in progress, namely month by month, and to unveil the news blackout on this matter. This scenary is widely neglected despite it is a very extensive phenomenon in Italy. In fact, many of the 97 attacks refered by the Observatory were unreported by the media.

BREAKING THE BIG WALL – In Italy, like in other western European countries, this news blackout on threats to journalists is like a big wall, a barrier that protects the perpetrators of attacks acting freely imposing illegal forms of censorship, the so-called “hidden censorship”, as a former Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe defined this phenomenon. This is deeply rooted in countries where the rule of law is in force.

This is why Ossigeno conducts its monitoring by fact-checking each episode in a way that, inter alia, requires contacting threatened journalists to verify information, to establish if they acted according to journalism ethics and to ascertain whether it is worth to help them to break the news blackout and stand against undue pressures. By publishing information that reconstructs all facts that its staff of experts have certified as violations, Ossigeno has helped journalists to receive solidarity and attention from public institutions. Moreover, Ossigeno has supported, given advice and in some cases, also legal assistance to journalists who had to self-defend themselves from vexatious legal actions. Such attacks are very common in Italy, an average of 5000 per year.

SOURCES OF INFORMATION – In the light of the fact that attacks are widely unreported by media or that summary information is often provided, Ossigeno was forced to self look  for such information by conducting a daily and autonomous research. This activity involved many observers and different sources are consulted. Then, the collected information was fact-checked under the rules of investigative journalism and ranked objectively applying Ossigeno’s method. For each attack, the observers established a direct contact with the victim.

THE CLIMATE OF INTIMIDATION – 179 journalists and bloggers that have received attacks during the three-month period impressively shows the dimensions of the phenomenon, how spread and unchallenged the climate of fear is. To really figure this out, other details need to be added.

34 NAMES MORE – The names of 34 ournalists and bloggers threatened were added to the Table that publicly discloses all names of victims of attacks fact-checked by Ossigeno. On the first of November, this Table lists 3734 names, of which 34 have been added only from August to October 2018. On average, one name per day has been added.

UNDER THE TIP OF THE ICEBERG – According to Ossigeno’s evaluation that have been experienced for a decade, the 226 threatened journalists and bloggers are only the most visible tip of an iceberg that counts 16 times more victims, namely 3616. Accordingly, the 3734 names added since 2006 are 92.264 victims.

CATEGORIES OF ATTACKS – Each episode of fact-checked or probable violation has, moreover, been catalogued on the basis of the 4 categories and 34 types of attack identified by the scientific Ossigeno Method of observation. The results of each fact-checking activity have been posted on the website and on the social networks. Ossigeno has produced and published detailed news articles on each case. The most relevant information has been further spread via press releases and newsletters.

NAMES of 34 VICTIMS – Over the three-month period August-October 2018 the certified victims of attacks are: Stefania Petyx and cameraman (+2); Filippo Mele (+1); Antonino Monteleone (+1); Giuseppe Crimaldi (+1); Federico Gervasoni (x2) (+2); Claudio Taverna (+1); Federica Angeli (+1); Angela Camuso, two media operators (+3); Agostino Pantano and publisher (+2); Luigi Palamara (+1); Mauro Favale, Yara Nardi, Oriana Boselli (+3); Mario De Michele (x2) (+2); Antonella Napoli (+1); Salvo Palazzolo (+1); Maria Teresa Carrozzo (+1);Sara Lucaroni and newsroom of Avvenire (+6); Mimmo Rubio (+1); Luigi Costanzo (+1); Leonardo Palmisano (+1); Attilio Bolzoni (+1); Mario Abenante (+1).

134 original news

Ossigeno produced and published 134 original news stories about these attacks and threats to journalists, about events organized by the Observatory and about freedom of expression: 93 in Italian, 43 in English.

68.000 views on Twitter

From August to October 2018, Ossigeno produced 64 posts with an average of 320 views per posts on Facebook; 75 Tweets, 68600 views, 971 profile visits and 38 new followers on Twitter.

Volunteering as the main resource

It should be noted that the depicted monitoring is not fully funded by the ECPMF project but costs are covered by other sources. The main funders are the National Union of Journalists and the Union of Journalists of Lazio region. Moreover, other essential services have been provided to Ossigeno for free in light of its no-profit mandate by the City of Rome, the Trade Union of Journalists of Rome and “Eco della Stampa”. Indeed, such monitoring activity costs a lot and its contributors are paid with market rates. Ossigeno covers these costs by relying both on paid workers and volunteers to cover the most expensive tasks. To accomplish them, Ossigeno has to check several news sources, because reading newspapers’ clippings, press reviews or checking the main websites is not enough when intercepting press freedom violations. This is mainly due to the fact that attacks against journalists and bloggers are rarely reported by the media. Therefore, Ossigeno’s activity go further than the possible productivity of the paid personnel. Its activity is possible because the main positions are covered from expert volunteers. Moreover, many essential services are provided to Ossigeno pro bono on grounds of its special mission of public interest and its non-profit mandate.

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