[en] Journalists Banned from M5S’s Electoral Rally in Rome

An overcrowded Piazza San Giovanni. Credits: mondoinformazione.com

It all started with an Alan Moore-inspired V-Day in September 2007 (although, in this case ‘V’ did not exactly stand for vendetta, but for the most famous F-word of the Italian language), and it was supposed to end tonight with an “It Will Be Our Pleasure Day” (“Sarà un piacere day”). However, the final electoral rally of the Movimento Cinque Stelle (M5S) was not so pleasant for the many Italian journalists who found themselves banned from backstage.

The movement’s founder and charismatic leader, Beppe Grillo, chose Piazza San Giovanni in Rome for the last of a long tour of electoral rallies (dubbed the “Tsunami Tour”). The square is important symbolically, being a traditional location for mass protests held by the left (including the traditional Labour Day concert, organized yearly on May 1 by the three main Italian unions, CGIL, CISL and UIL).

The event began at 6 PM, with a speech by the party’s leader Beppe Grillo scheduled for 9 PM. Tens of thousands of activists awaited their leader as electoral speeches were given by M5S candidates or elected representatives and chants of “Go Home” (“Tutti a casa”), addressed to the current political class, rang out.

In order to go backstage, journalists had to submit a registration form in advance. However, a surprise awaited the Italian journalists. Early in the afternoon of February 22, all Italian journalists found closed doors and were denied access (with the only exception of Sky News 24‘s reporters), while the foreign press was authorized to go backstage. It took three hours of extenuated negotiation and the intervention of police for the M5S to open backstage to the press. The Association of Foreign Press (Associazione Stampa Estera), representing several media present in the country, promptly released a statement condemning the decision.

This decision is in line with the long-term hostility of the movement towards mainstream media, and especially television. Among other things, the M5S Statute forbids candidates to engage in TV interviews of any kind — two elected representatives were actually expelled from the movement for violating this rule, Giovanni Favia (Regional Council in Emilia Romagna, now on the list of the radical leftist slate “Rivoluzione Civile) and Federica Salsi (City Councillor in Bologna). Recently, Grillo cancelled an interview scheduled for February 17 on the Italian private channel SkyNews 24 without giving any reasons.

Ironically, during his final address, Grillo denounced the lack of attention of Italian media (which he suggested ignore his movement) compared with the curiosity and the interest of media worldwide; he even invited a reporter from the Danish television to come forward. Perhaps the Italian journalists who were almost banned by his supporters would express a different opinion.


text [it] La stampa.it
text [it] Agi.it
text [it] Foreign Press Association Condemns the Ban – Agi.it
text [it] Down with the Press – Repubblica.it
text [it] La Repubblica.it
text [it] Grillo Seduces the Foreign Press – Agi.it

About Struggles in Italy

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4 Responses to [en] Journalists Banned from M5S’s Electoral Rally in Rome

  1. Mauro Vivian says:

    I am not surprised by the tone of this article as after living in London for almost a decade I have learned a thing or two about “journalistic perspectives”. I am however preoccupied by an extremely important omission on the analysis, which to me is either incompetence on facts checking, or purpesful strumentalisation of the piece of news. The attentive reader with a minimum of historic memory might recall that Italiam media (tv, newspapers and mags) has been dominated by an illegal monopoly in the hands of Berlusconi (time and time again condemned by the EU) whilst the rest receives direct annual contribution by the left wing party. M5S has never received a penny by the government and on the contrary is refusing legal entitlements to date amounting to 100m euros as the Italians banned this sort of practice through a referendum 5 years ago and was promptly ignored and circumvented with a legal loophole. Italian media present last night had therefore a vested interest in portraying in a diffamatory way (as it always has) the movement and an historic event for Italian democracy. What these guys cannot stand is that M5S outrightly bypasses this obsolete information system removing any sort of information control and ensuing manipulation. Had Italian media played fairly since 2007 towards M5S they would have allowed on stage. This article portrays this decision as illiberal, whilst the reader should think twice whether to believe it or not. I would recommend the reader to also follow the movement’s website http://www.beppegrillo.it to check of more facts and I would invite to make a contribution as the M5S believes in collective intelligence deployed by means of the fluid or hyper democracy. Mauro Vivian Italian expat living in London since 2005 who had lost any hope for his country… up to now! 😉

    • You are right about the article, it is partisan: we regard the described behaviour as undemocratic, like the expulsion of Salsi and Favia. We’re trying to explain it.
      We invite you to read the About page, to see that we do not claim to be “objective journalists”.
      However, you are correct in saying that something is missing. We’re writing a Dossier about M5s that will attempt to explain both the movement’s history and our criticisms of it, voicing both sides. It’s quite long and we’re still working on it, but it will be online very soon.

  2. Pingback: [en] Berlusconi calls for supporters, attracts thousands of protesters instead. | Struggles in Italy

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