“None of your fucking business”, is the relator’s answer to a reporter question

Marco Liberati of the press agency Agricolae had insisted upon having an answer while a press conference. The Rome Press Association protested. Days later apologies arrived. Solidarity expressed by Ossigeno

OSSIGENO 8 March 2022 – During the press conference held on the 30th November 2021 by the Italian Farmers Confederation (CIA) in Rome at the headquarters of the Foreign Press Association, to present a new campaign to promote e-commerce, its President Dino Scanavino reacting to the journalist Marco Liberati of the Agricolae press agency who had insisted on having a clear answer to his question, said into the microphone “It’s my fucking business not yours”. Marco Liberati responded by saying “This is an insult to journalism”. The journalist Alfredo Tesio, who represented the foreign press, intervened saying: “These questions are of no interest to colleagues”. The other journalists present witnessed the scene without reacting. The organizers then invited the reporter to leave the room. The Rome Press Association, the union of Lazio journalists, rebuked the behaviour of the CIA president in a press statement. A few days later Dino Scanavino apologized for the incident (read here).

THE INCIDENT – During the session reserved for questions from journalists, Marco Liberati asked the CIA Director General Claudia Merlino and the President Dino Scanavino to clarify how their organization had used a targeted donation of 350,000 euro from the JpMorgan Foundation. The question had already been raised several times in the previous months by Marco Liberati’s newspaper (read here) without obtaining comprehensive answers. Claudia Merlino responded unsatisfactorily for the reporter who insisted on having a clearer answer. At that point the President made his angry comment.

THE VIDEO – The press conference was broadcast in streaming and the video of it is still available but the section with the insults to Marco Liberati has been cut. The remarks, however, can be heard on the audio recording made by the reporter and published online by the Agricolae agency (listen here).

THE JOURNALIST – Marco Liberati told Ossigeno: “My activity and that of my agency have always been ethically correct. It is not permissible for organizers to insult and intimidate a journalist during a press conference, as they did to me, just because uncomfortable questions are asked. Faced with incidents like this, colleagues should react and make a common front”.

COMMENTOssigeno expresses full solidarity with Marco Liberati and shares his views. The Rome Press Association did well to publish a protest note. In these cases, other journalists should react by identifying with the situation in which the abused and offended colleague finds himself. They should expect an apology from those who offended them, because apologies draw a line under these incidents and prevent a precedent from being created. For Marco Liberati an apology has arrived but only after the severe stance of his union. The newspapers that accredit journalists and the press officers who invite them, have the ethical duty to intervene to defend their personal dignity and their right to ask questions, even if unwelcome or off topic, and to do so without receiving insults. But the first and most important defence rests with the journalists who witness the incident and who find themselves alongside that day’s victim. They can and must help him with their solidarity and side with him.

GB

Read also What we can do when a proprietor insults a reporter Che cosa possiamo fare quando il padrone di casa insulta un giornalista

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