The hot Italian summer of web insults to reporters: from dog eaters to CC

OSSIGENO – 23rd September 2020 – In the cross hairs, journalists who challenged and contradicted  the news of “Libero” and reported the specific crimes of which the arrested carabinieri were charged

During the month of August 2020, there were numerous social media users who, with insults and threats sent via the web, challenged journalists and bloggers who unmasked fake news. With these journalists and bloggers Ossigeno expresses full solidarity. “We are facing a new gang  that does not use batons but posts on the web”, commented the Deputy Minister of the Interior Matteo Mauri, to whom the president of the FNSI (National Federation of the Italian Press) on the 3rd  September 2020 , delivered a dossier on the threats to Italian journalists, of which Ossigeno does not know the content.

The main episode, for which numerous reporters have been insulted and threatened (and also the president of the FNSI, after he expressed his solidarity with them) arose from the publication of an article by Salvatore Dama entitled “Complaint in Lampedusa – Migrants ate my four dogs ”, published on the 7th August on the front page, , in the newspaper Libero. The article was based on the statements of a farming entrepreneur on  the island. The news was also disseminated by journalists Chiara Giannini and Francesca Totolo who maintained  its accuracy in the face of explicit complaints by the mayor Toto Martello, the animal rights activists of the LAV and the blogger David Puente. This last, head of the fact-checking project at Open, checked the sources used by Libero and defined Dama’s article as fake news.

The RaiNews24 journalist, Angela Caponnetto, was also inundated on Twitter and Facebook with sexist insults and threats for calling Libero’s scoop false. Angela Caponnetto told Ossigeno “It’s not so much the insults themselves that frighten and annoy me. These episodes are a direct attack on the profession and undermine our professionalism. ” She has already suffered waves of web insults for her investigations on migrants, and is collecting posts to file a formal complaint.

Paolo Berizzi, Nello Scavo, Asmae Dachan, Antonella Napoli, Articolo 21 and Andrea Palladino also disputed the veracity of Libero‘s article and for this they were hit by insults and threats on social media.

The same treatment was reserved, at the end of August, to the journalist Giuseppe Giulietti, president of the FNSI, when he wrote on social media to express solidarity with all journalists threatened for denying the veracity of Libero’s article. Giulietti has initiated a formal complaint against the authors of the insulting and threatening posts he received (including from members of the far right).

After my stance, Giulietti wrote in Article 21, the defenders of Libero’s version “did not even pretend to take a step backwards, but, as is their custom, they began to insult and threaten the reporters who made checks, starting with the female journalists because they hate women “. (read here) The secretary of the FNSI, Lorusso expressed solidarity with him.

ALESSIA CANDITO – Threats and web insults were also directed during the summer to the journalist of LacNews, and correspondent for La Repubblica for Calabria.  Alessia Candito, already attacked and sued for her inquiries into the organised crime syndicate ‘Ndrangheta, and this time targeted by Giuseppe Minnella, leader candidate of Fiamma Tricolore ( a neo-Fascist political party) in Reggio Calabria, who in a post on Facebook called her “drug addict scribbler whose acids have corroded her teeth”, “friend of the mafia”. These offensive phrases followed an article published on the La Repubblica website on the 2nd September 2020, in which Alessia Candito reported that among the candidates of Minnella’s party for the next administrative elections in Reggio Calabria, there were neo-Fascist exponents.

MONICA NAPOLI – In the last days of July, sexist insults and threats were addressed through social media to the journalist Monica Napoli (SkyTg24) who received sexist threats and insults after the airing of one of her reports on the scandal of the Levante Barracks in Piacenza, placed in a cordon following the arrest of six carabinieri, on duty at the facility. The journalist had wanted to correct an inaccuracy circulating on social media by specifying that the carabinieri were  accused of drug dealing, beatings and other serious crimes. “A journalist – she told Ossigeno – has a duty to fight fake news Those who believe in this profession must go like an express train in search of the source, and say things as they are without fear of responses “. 


With the collaboration of Raffaella Della Morte

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