A few thoughts about practicing journalism in Italy

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If you are interested in practicing journalism in Italy, you have to know that you will face some bureaucracy. Altough the Italian Supreme Court simply states that “Journalism is an intellectual job oriented to search, comment and elaboration of news, aimed to interpersonal communication through the media”, reality is instead far away.

In other countries, journalists are generally identified as communication professionals, working in newspapers, radio, television, press offices and media agencies. In Italy, instead, only who is enrolled at the “Order of Journalists” can legally define himself a “journalist”, even if he currently does not write for any newspaper, or does not work in the field of journalism.

Under the fascist regime, a law of 1925 established that the exercise of journalism would be permitted only to the professionals enrolled in the Register of Journalists. In 1963 it was founded the present-day Order of Journalists, where every Italian journalist is obliged to be registered in order to work. A rare case in Europe, this institution is still alive after sixty years.

On the other side, a freelance reporter who is not registered to the Order, may theoretically get into the crime of “illegal practice of profession”, punishable by imprisonment up to 6 months, like a fake doctor without a degree.

What is required to become a journalist in Italy? First you have to join an officially registered editorial staff, and there practice at least two years of paid journalistic activity. For example, if you work for a daily publication, you have to write a minimum number of about 100 articles during these 24 months, but law is different for each region. Then you have to submit your application for registration to the Order of journalists, along with the copies of your publications and payment certifications provided by your editorial director. If you are admitted, you become a “publicist journalist”, and you have to pay a fee of about 100 euro a year and follow periodically some compulsory training courses. The path ends there only for those who do not practice journalism as their only job activity.

Instead, if you want to work exclusively in journalism, you have to achieve the title of “professional journalist”. This will take you another 18 months of practice in an editorial staff, followed by a State examination. Alternatively, for the little sum of some thousands euro you can join a school of journalism that, at the end of the courses, will grant you the right to directly access to the State exam: one of the most well-known institutes, held by a public university, requests over € 14,000 for attending its courses. After passing the final exam, journalism can be your exclusive and full-time job. Good luck…