Tennis. Protests following the withdrawal of a pass from a well-known reporter

According to the organisers Ubaldo Scanagatta should have written only for the title for which he had accreditation and not for others. But maybe there is another motivation. Journalist organizations regard it as very serious.

The Italian Tennis Federation (FIT) decision to exclude the journalist Ubaldo Scanagatta, chief editor the newsletter, from the matches of the Italian Internationals in Rome at Foro Italico has raised concerns and protests. The decision was taken on May 18th 2019, when the pass that allows accredited journalists to access sports facilities to follow the matches in order to publish news and reports was withdrawn from Scanagatta.

Scanagatta is a well-known sports reporter and specialises in tennis. This year he was accredited for the tournament, as in previous years, on behalf of the Florentine newspaper “La Nazione”.

In the days before the withdrawal of accreditation his articles had also been published by other newspapers of the same publishing group.

The FIT communications director challenged this in writing to Scanagatta that he had published articles not only in the newspaper for which he had asked for accreditation, but also in others.

Ubitennis put forward the hypothesis that the real reason is another one. That it is a retaliation for having included in his article published on May 13th, the following sentence in which he directed a criticism at the FIT: “Meanwhile, following Federer’s decision to participate, Federtennis has decided to double the price of Wednesday’s opening day tickets to reward those who had bought them at half price earlier, said FIT president Binaghi. A very curious bonus …”.

THE PROTESTS – National Federation of the Italian Press, Ussi, Tuscan Press Association, Tuscan Journalists Sports Group and Council of the Journalists Order of Tuscany, protested with a joint declaration released on May 31st 2019, considering very serious the action taken against a “historic” figure of sports journalism and, in particular, of tennis.

These organizations “consider such a harassing attitude unacceptable, also because how the decision was motivated, i.e., Scanagatta should have written only for the title that accredited it and not for others. This justification is to be rejected also for the dramatic context in which the profession finds itself, where many freelance colleagues often for reasons of pure survival, need to write for several newspapers in order to be able to put together sufficient remuneration”. This necessity, the journalists’ organisation adds is “universally recognized: so much so that in the same regulations of Roland Garros (International tennis courts of France) we read verbatim: ‘The accreditation is issued to the journalist, photographer or technician, in a personal capacity or on behalf of that, or of all those publications for which you collaborate, for whatever reason ‘”.

Therefore the trade organizations of the journalists have addressed an appeal to the Italian Olympic Committee and to all the sports federations, recommending that such incidents no longer occur, in any facility, in any stadium, in any field. The accreditation, it is well to remember, is not a privilege of journalists, but simply a working tool, guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution, which protects freedom of expression, adding that “the press cannot be subject to authorizations or censorship” and obviously envisaging that the exercise of a free press also includes the right of access to information and its collection without limitations.

ASP (wt)

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