Italy. Threats for an article on nostalgics for Mussolini

“I was not left alone”, says Niccolò Zancan, special correspondent of La Stampa – Public solidarity from collegues and the chief editor

OSSIGENO 13th September 2022 – “Don’t worry, now I’ll find your address and I’ll come to hug you”. This is the content of an anonymous phone call received by Niccolò Zancan, journalist of La Stampa, on the 22nd August 2022. Contacted by Ossigeno, the journalist says: “I have had great support from my newspaper, but these things affect you”.

THE CONTEXT – On the 21st August a report by Niccolò Zancan compiled in Predappio was published in La Stampa (read here). In the article, the special correspondent of the Turin newspaper describes the itinerary of many nostalgic for the “Duce” who go to Predappio, an Italian town in the province of Forlì-Cesena where, in 1883, Benito Mussolini was born. Speaking to Ossigeno, Niccolò Zancan says: “Together with other colleagues, we are producing some reportage on Italy and its forthcoming general election from symbolic places in the country, such as Lampedusa and Prato. In Predappio I visited a museum in which an exhibition on the March on Rome is set up. At the end of the exhibition there is a visitors book in which many have written messages of homage to the Duce, while outside the museum there are shops selling souvenirs dedicated to Fascism. In my reporting I have done nothing but describe all this “.

THE PHONE CALL – In the morning following the publication of the article, Niccolò Zancan’s mobile phone rings. The journalist replies and a male voice that remains anonymous and speaks in a phony friendly tone says: “We have seen your article, congratulations, very nice, now we are coming to hug you. Don’t worry, now I will find your address and I will arrive”. Niccolò Zancan hangs up, then consults a colleague of his and decides to notify the management of the newspaper. He explains to Ossigeno: “The director Massimo Giannini immediately phoned me and told me that the incident should not remain hidden, so he gave the news in an editorial (read here). In the following days Zancan decided to continue to deal with the topic, in particular by analysing the ambiguities and links that exist between traditional political parties and this alternative reality of nostalgia. I have had great support from my newspaper and I know I’m lucky, because many of my colleagues, perhaps freelancers or in smaller organisations find themselves alone in the face of intimidation”.

SOLIDARITY – Ossigeno per l’informazione expresses solidarity with the journalist and underlines the importance of the support provided by the editors of the newspaper. Niccolò Zancan is also taking steps to report the incident to the police and Ossigeno has encouraged him to do so because these intimidating acts violate press freedom and inhibit the journalist also in his future investigations. The public stance of the newspaper and colleagues reaffirms their intention not to be stopped by intimidation. GB wt

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