Legal aid by Ossigeno to Italian journalist sued by a publisher

Fabrizio Dell’Orso is accused of having translated and published in a blog an article. He declares himself unconnected with the event.

OSSIGENO 28th November 2022 – The Free Legal Aid Office of Ossigeno per l’Informazione that works with support of Media Defence (see here) has accepted the request for legal aid from the journalist Fabrizio Dell’Orso who is facing a criminal trial for libel in a lawsuit brought by Andrea Ceccherini, founder of the Osservatorio Permanente Giovani-Editori  (an organization with the declared aim of promoting a path of training and education in citizenship for young people), despite the fact that Dell’Orso declares himself extraneous to the dispute.

Ceccherini accuses Fabrizio Dell’Orso of having damaged his reputation with the publication in English, on the “Italian4journalists Mag-Zine” blog, of a journalism investigation which assesses negatively the results achieved by the Observatory founded by Ceccherini with its initiative “The Newspaper in Class”. It is as it says a blog which as such has neither a chief editor, nor a “director of publications” as Fabrizio Dell’Orso was described in the lawsuit.

Fabrizio Dell’Orso’s request for legal aid  aroused the interest of Ossigeno both for the vagueness of the accusations and for the lawsuit’s challenge to content of public interest which contains reasoned criticisms, based on data from ISTAT (the Italian National Institute of Statistics), and written in an appropriate tone. Criticisms that deserved not a lawsuit but rather a request for rectification or a request to have a reply posted. These requests, as far as Ossigeno is aware, have not been made.

By helping a journalist to defend himself in court against such accusations, Ossigeno defends the prerogative of every journalist to answer only for his own personal responsibilities and to freely exercise the right to information. It also defends the right of bloggers to act in the public interest by publishing media content that is not patently false or defamatory.

THE DISPUTED PUBLICATION – The publication is the one translated into English and republished by “Italian4journalists Mag-Zine” of an investigation written by the journalist Claudio Gatti and published in the “Il Venerdi” supplement of La Repubblica, on March 16th 2018. In that article, the author noted that the Osservatorio Permanente Giovani-Editori was created in 2001 with the aim of promoting the reading of newspapers by young people and students in high schools and universities. But that after 18 years of activity it had not achieved that goal, citing the ISTAT reading index which indicated that the percentage of young readers of Italian newspapers has dropped from 49.4% to 24.4%.

“The reality is that all the independent surveys, from ISTAT to Audipress or the Federation of Publishers, indicate that  – wrote Claudio Gatti – in the Observatory’s 18 years of activity, the decline in the reading rate among young people has undergone   a robust acceleration. While between the mid-1980s and 2000 the percentage of readers who have leafed through a newspaper at least once a week has remained substantially stable, since 2001, the year Ceccherini’s program was launched, an unstoppable drop has begun. Among 15-17 year olds the rate fell from 49.4 per cent to 24.4 per cent. Among 20-24 year olds it fell from 66.1 to 35.6 and between 25 and 34 year olds the percentage went from 67 to 41.5 per cent”.

Ceccherini claims the opposite, on his Observatory website, in a book published in 2015 and in his lawsuits.

In 2018 Claudio Gatti’s investigation was picked up and relaunched by other media; Pier Luca Santoro on DatamediaHub (read here), la Repubblica and Stefano Liviadotti in L’Espresso.

Ceccherini reacted with civil suits for defamation against all of them. The judges found him wrong in the L’Espressoand DatamediaHub cases, while the case against La Repubblica is still pending.

THE BLOG – The Italian4Journalists blog was created in 2000 from an idea of Fabrizio Dell’Orso and Roberto Morrione at the time freshly appointed as director of RAI International.

Fabrizio Dell’Orso is not the author of the translation or of the publication and is absolutely unconnected to the dispute. He is not “the publisher” as he has already had the opportunity to clarify during the mediation process. This has not prevented Ceccherini from filing a lawsuit against him and placing a sword of Damocles over his head in the form of a possible civil action. As far as Dell’Orso is aware, the blog has not received any requests for rectification or lawsuits but it has had important testimonials of esteem and professionalism for the qualitative level with which it has dealt with various topics and complex themes.


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