This guy is a freelance journalist working for various newspapers around the world. In the Italian media sphere he has collaborated for over six-months at Berlusconi’s right-hand man’s intellectual paper “Il Foglio” as well as working for the ex-prime ministers’ voice, “Il Giornale”. Nonetheless, he has many contradictory opinions concerning the message his media stands for. We interviewed him on what this has meant for his professional career, and here is what he has to say.
My goal was to do an internship for an Italian daily. I ended up working for “Il Foglio” with a three-month internship that was successively renewed and jump-started my journalistic career. There is a big cultural section, which comes out on Saturdays and it is here that interns like me would write brief pieces. It was a great place to learn and a place to get noticed; the cultural section is quite unique and amazing, and importantly, they let you write about anything, so Saturday’s cultural section becomes a soapbox for your passions and thoughts. Interestingly the co-editor of the paper is a self-declared leftist, but I’ve always said that it would be pathetic if a right-wing newspaper only had right-wing journalists.
Currently I’m working regularly with “Il Giornale” – Berlusconi´s main media holding – for their foreign affairs section. I got the position by contacting the editor before I took a trip to the US to cover the American elections; I asked him if he was interested in having a correspondent in the field and like that I got the job. It’s pretty simple, I just write articles and send them in, and I’ve only been into the office once, that’s it. It’s an easy lifestyle since nobody gives a shit about foreign affairs and there is not really any restrictions -except I have to comply with their standards: no profanity, nothing too controversial, quite simple phrases etc. These restrictions don’t affect my work and since writing is my principle interest, it’s easy.
I wrote about Bloomberg proposing to legalise marijuana, and paper was actually quite cool about it – “to some extent they should legalise it” was my editor´s personal position. Regarding the Israel-Palestine conflict, their line is extremely pro-Israel. This is basically due to a lead journalist’s strong voice in Italian pro-Israeli policy. The national politics are obviously pro-Berlusconi, but since I cover the American politics section I have never been censored or guided. For them I write “stupid stuff” because foreign affairs are not that important to them anyway.
I never really studied Berlusconi´s political policies, but I know I wouldn’t vote for his party. I’m not pro-life. I am in favor of same-sex-marriage, gay couples and adoption. Fiscally I am a central-liberal, if I had to vote in Italy I would vote for the radicals, but I don’t vote, ever. And I don’t really care about religion, but I don’t think religious leader should have political opinions on matters that effect society.
As far as immigration is concerned, I’m personally not sure. I would say a certain degree of immigration is quite good for the economy and this has been evidenced through studies and statistics, however, I do believe that immigration should be limited to the number of people that the economy can actually absorb and support, but I’m not the person to come up with this number – I’m just a writer. But what are the effects of excess immigration? Cheap and unfair labour practices, prostitution, criminal organisations and gangs, and infinity the number of people selling roses in the streets of Rome. The ghettos in Italy are quite unpredictable, and this is due to the fact that many immigrants pass through here before travelling further into Western Europe.
Why do I work at Il Giornale? I must admit, Vice, Rivista Studio, Il Mondo, Banca e Finanza, Il Riformista, to name a few, are some papers that would more accurately mirror my political views – but they acted like motherfuckers towards me. One of these papers stopped paying me, as well as tons of other people I know. Then they closed down, and never paid me. At the moment I am organising a class action with my colleagues. It is unprofessional and unacceptable. Another newspaper, “Unità“, of socialist tendency, rarely pays, and then the others are too big and it’s too hard to get employed by them.
Of course I realise that I am supporting Berlusconi’s media by writing for it. I’m not going to try to be a hypocrite, and deny it. But I want to be a journalist and sometimes you have to write opinions that are not yours. Deal with it.
For me, journalism is the effort of filling the gap of information asymmetry found in society, and importantly it’s a medium that enhances transparency and keeps politicians in check. After all, the case of wealthier people having better access to information is often a condition for the creation of wealth, journalism in my view, is a useful tool to distribute that precious information to the masses.
For example: a new law can create opportunities for entrepreneurship. If only the same few elite know about this opportunity and manage to exploit that law they have a clear advantage, but through media awareness more people can have the same entrepreneurial chances – these are all elements that add up to a better, and more competitive democracy.
Il Giornale defends positions that are often distant from mine, but I don’t think this is a problem, at least not for me; if someone is ideologically different from me but is able to argue the position in an interesting and detailed manner, why shouldn’t they have the opportunity to be heard?
My main issue with Il Giornale, in terms of content, is that the quality of the paper is not high. I can tell you that the journalist and the editors are certainly not stupid. The mediocre quality of the paper in terms of intellectual engagement is an editorial choice given by market concerns. In other words: selling is the main objective and they have chosen a populist market.
Many will say I am incoherent for writing for both right and left papers. Which is true, but I just don’t care! Because I think that you have to be careful not to slip into paternalism with what you argue.
In the future, I think I would like to work for a magazine, or as part of a strategist campaign – definitely not as a journalist. I’d like to get involved in the city I live in. I would like to have a cat; hopefully I won’t be married, and I’ll be still riding a bike!