As the 40-year old Communist newspaper il manifesto managed to survive its imminent closure earlier in December, the mediascape of the Italian left continues to evolve. Recent newspapers like Pubblico shut down, due to poor management and lack of readers, and an old player like Liberazione comes back. Meanwhile, journalists, print workers and contract-staff take action, revealing the labour side of Communist and radical press.
Contrary to our report in December, the 40+ year history of il manifesto did not end abruptly early in 2013. On December 28, 2012, the Ministry of Development reached a last-minute agreement with a new cooperative. The deal allows this new body, born from the ashes of the previous financial board, to continue publication without a break, using the same name and style.
A new chapter has now opened for the veteran Communist newspaper, which is still dealing with the fall-out from last year, including desertion by many and very public splits. Several former contributors have protested that they were excluded from the new body, including Daniele Barbieri (the former Emilia Romagna correspondent) and Cinzia Gubbini (the website’s former managing editor). The new management is seeking to turn the page, though, by calling it a ‘new story’ – one that has not been written yet.
Meanwhile, the wider mediascape of Italian left continues to evolve. Another left-wing newspaper, Pubblico, shut down on January 1, 2013. A recent addition to the Italian media, Pubblico had been around for slightly over three months. It was founded and directed by Luca Telese in the wake of a polemical disagreement with Il fatto quotidiano, the fiercely anti-Berlusconi newspaper he co-founded in 2009 with Marco Travaglio and Antonio Padellaro. Travaglio’s growing sympathies for Beppe Grillo’s Movimento Cinque Stelle were among the reasons for the split.
Pubblico reached an average of 4,000 readers daily, which was not sufficient to keep it alive: according to Telese, 9,6000 readers would have been the bare minimum to ensure survival. As the publishers were not able to attract new investors, closure became unavoidable. A breaking point was reached on December 7, when workers publicly criticized the editorial group for lack of transparency on the real risks of the operation. The journalists of Pubblico called a one-day strike on December 28, to protest against the closure of the newspaper and the consequent job losses. The workers pointed out the lack of entrepreneurial skills of the director and the financial board, and reported many labour violations, including unpaid wages. The closure affected 19 journalists, three print workers, and eight freelancers working fairly regularly for the paper – all of whom had personally been chosen and called by Telese, according to staff member Mariagrazia Gerina. In an open letter published on December 30, the staff pointed the finger at management responsibilities: their lack of planning beyond the three-month time frame, their inability to attract new investors, and the high price of the newspaper, making it unattractive in times of crisis. Their protests, though, were not enough to save the newspaper.
Finally, Liberazione, formerly the organ of the PRC (Party of the Communist Re-Foundation), announced its comeback exactly a year after its closure. The newspaper has been online since the beginning of January, at its old web address: Liberazione.it
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