You can find her original post in Italian here: http://11onair.com/2013/03/10/goodbye-italy-im-a-freelance/
Twenty years rising through the ranks, because you never finish attempting the peak in a world of notepads and tape recorders. Twenty years in which you come to the realization that each day that passes your condition is ever more aggrieved. Because journalism is a disease that gets worse with time, that corrodes your soul, that doesn’t let you sleep at night.
When the Libyan crisis hit, I tossed and turned for hours. Unable to get any shut-eye, I had to just get up and go. In the name of that passion that burns inside--that makes you feel that every piece of news you don’t go and see for yourself is a lost piece of print.
I left for Tunisia to follow the Libyan conflict from a different perspective. There, I became specialized in Defense and Armed Forces, touring from one theater of war to another, often reporting alongside dyed-in-the-wool reporters. I found out firsthand that I had what it took: “A purebred on whom no one would ever have placed a bet,” reiterated a good friend and war correspondent-the first colleague to ever have faith in me. I found myself on the front page while at the front. For 50 euro an article, even from Afghanistan, even from worse places. Or free. Because some papers just couldn’t even pay that. Because it’s come to this; between the newspaper crisis and a ‘system’ run by huge interests that they don’t dare to break.
I’m nearly 40 years old and a freelancer. At times I was kept on low-paid forced leave, followed by unpaid unemployment. When I do get paid, I get paid after 6 months. This part I’ve never even mentioned, but I believe it’s the right thing to do, especially as a monition to young people venturing forth to start a career as a journalist. But also for those who believe that journalists are ugly, mean-spirited and ultra-paid; for those who see reporters as someone who sits at a desk and writes stories thanks to the news agencies. I for one have always gotten my butt off my chair and gone off to touch things with my very own hand, to verify what was happening. I’ve suffered, I’ve sweat blood for my job, am I’m still here, despite everything.
My lexicon now serves to report that after so many years, I’ve decided to take the only option open to me: emigration. Because in Italy, there’s the economic crisis, because politicians sue you regularly for libel [I myself have two open lawsuits, one with Gianfranco Fini (former President of the House of Reps) and Enrico Rossi--maybe they’ll be so thrilled to see their names here that they’ll sue me again]; because in Italy, only the mediocre get ahead, or the ones with 'recommendations' from high up, or those who ‘report’ without ever leaving their desks, or, as I’ve seen awhile back, reporters like those from Corriere della Sera who arrive accompanied by chauffeured limousine, or those who like to think of themselves as A-list reporters just because they’re officially hired or others from the 'privileged class' because their salaries get them invited to every single opening or event, while we poor freelancers only make the cut every so often and even then, we still must pay our own fares.
As of today, I say Basta! (Enough already!) and I’ve decided to emigrate. I’ll keep reporting and writing in English, seeing that no one wants Italian from me. Because writing in Italian no longer pays the bills. So, “Goodbye and Good Luck.” This, for all of you who are true journalists, to those who suffer yet never give up, to those who write for their life’s purpose.
To everyone else, I say, change jobs. Or follow my lead. Because Italy is buona - but only for its pasta.
- Chiara Giannini