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Investigative journalism in Italy-jobs available

The relationship of the media and law enforcement has never been trouble-free. Journalists claim their right to information and tend to get annoyed when denied access. Yet police won’t let them sneak a peak at confidential reports not to compromise the integrity of the investigation. Though both parties hold firm with a slim chance of changing their minds, there is one thing they agree on; to better address organized crime change is needed, badly.

Depending on what field they work in the speakers of “The globalization of organized crime” seminar had a set of guidelines as what to change.

Piero Grasso, director of Public Prosecution for Mafia Crimes, urges the introduction of measures authorizing the use of surveillance materials such as wiretapping or public camera recordings during the investigation/trial without special permission. With these steps, he claims, law enforcement agencies could deal more effectively with crime networks. Investigative journalists, however, cannot reckon on having such a toolbar. They have to rely on their on own resources e.g. people close to the Mafia, which is not at all risk-free. Perhaps due to these secrecy constraints or the risk involved, the number of investigative journalists in Italy has dropped significantly.

According to Paolo Butturini, director of Rome Press Association, there are other reasons as well. “First, journalist education needs to be overhauled. In this profession lifelong learning is essential and it is our responsibility too, to teach journalists the necessary skills”. The Association recently organized a training course on criminal law for journalists writing chronicles to help them gain a better understanding of the process.

However, not everyone needs DNA samples and police reports for a story. Old school journalist Francesco La Licata, crime correspondent to Italian daily La Stampa, believes that information is embedded in conversations so direct contact is essential. “Doing some research on the net, making a few phone calls is not what I consider investigation.” Petra Reski, Italy correspondent to the German weekly Die Zeitung, shares this view. “It is dangerous to rely solely on police reports because you can’t see what’s behind”. To prove the point, Reski’s book about the structures of Italian mafia and its ramifications in Germany is based ninety percent on the information gained first-hand.

Zsófia Végh

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