Last time I met Laura Boldrini, she had an arm clasped around her neck and a gun pointed at her temples. The new President of the Chamber of Deputies (Italy’s Lower House of Parliament) presided over a UNHCR (the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) press conference in Rome, to present the campaign “Routine is fantastic”. Suddenly a group of armed, hooded soldiers burst into the hall of the auditorium. They pointed their weapons at the head of the journalists in the front rows. They screamed threatening statements and grabbed Laura Boldrini by the throat. Then, they drag us all into the back of the room, taking our IDs and pulling the attendees.

Obviously this was a simulation (although everything seemed so real). “We wanted to revive those moments to make it clear to reporters in the room what it means to be a refugee – said Laura Boldrini when we came back in the room – this is not fiction, but it is a simulation of what these people have really suffered: it is a trusty reproduction of reality. We have seen what it means to be journalists in a country where there is no freedom of expression.”

Laura Boldrini has always had strong attention and sensitivity towards freedom of information. “The Italian media – she said in an interview that is not too recent, although very up-to-date – are reproducing the same stereotypes about immigration, without reflecting on the fact that immigration is a phenomenon in constant and rapid evolution. But the Italian media have not gone beyond the old cliché, they have not updated their way of speaking about this phenomenon, they have not challenged either in terms of language (which is always poor, simplistic, belittling) or in terms of content. Immigration is thus seen almost exclusively in relation to the facts of crime, judicial and landings. On a sample of 6,580 television services, examined by the Faculty of Communication Studies of the University of Rome, only 26 spoke about immigration without linking it to the issue of security.”

A few weeks ago, on the eve of the general election, Laura Boldrini signed the Declaration of Intent that the Association “Articolo21” has sent to all election candidates asking them a commitment against any conflict of interest, and to bring Italy in Europe also in the media sector. The election of a woman who has always cared about the Constitution, human rights and freedom of expression as President of the Chamber of Deputies is, undoubtedly, a great sign of hope.

 

An article by Stefano Corradino, Italian Journalist and Director of Articolo 21, Member of the Italian Committee for the EIMP (European Initiative for Media Pluralism).

[Originally published in Italian as “La spiccata sensibilità di Laura Boldrini per la libertà d’informazione” in:  Stefano Corradino’s Blog | Il Fatto Media & Regime | 16 March 2013]