Published 13th November, 2011 on the European Journalism Centre magazine. Author: Alessia Cerantola
Before hanging himself from a tree in the garden of his house in Puglia, Pierpaolo Faggiano revealed in a letter what had driven him to this extreme act: his precarious working conditions.
For decades the 41-year-old Italian journalist had been a regular contributor to a local newspaper, barely eking out EUR 4 to 20 per article.
Following Faggiano’s suicide many journalists started blaming the unequal Italian media environment for protecting only a small number of regularly paid employees, forcing others to survive on meagre incomes.
The incident unleashed a wave of protests among Italian journalists and bloggers who started asking, on online platforms and in street demonstrations, for more respectable labour conditions.
They pointed the finger at the increasing number of media organisations that use underpaid freelancers as regular contributors.
The protests also drew attention to the knots and holes of the old-fashioned and gerontocratic Italian media system and blamed it for undermining high quality journalism through the wide practice of nepotism in the recruiting process of journalists.
Italian media does not favour a free and competitive job market, the demonstrators claimed.