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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 difficulties. 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 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 actually does not write for any newspaper, or does not work in the field of journalism.

The the present-day Order of journalists, founded in 1963, was preceded by the insitution of the register of Journalists during the fascist era, a time when the printed word was strictly controlled by the regime: the Royal Decrees on Press of 1924 and 1925 established indeed that “the exercise of journalism is permitted only to those who are enrolled in the register of Journalists”.

Today however, a rare case in Europe, the Order of journalists is still alive after sixty years. The journalist’s badge grants the holder to freely access to press conferences, enter to museums without fees and other benefits.

On the other side, a freelance contributor who is not registered to the Order, probably with his very low income (if he has one), may get into the crime of “illegal practice of profession”, punishable by imprisonment up to 6 months, like a fake doctor without a degree.

So, what is required to become a journalist in Italy? First you have to join an editorial staff officially registered to a law court, and there practice at least two years of journalistic activity. If you work for a daily publication, you have to write a minimum number of articles (about 100) during these 24 months, but law changes in each region. Then you have to submit your application 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 have to pay about 100 euro a year in taxes and follow many compulsory training courses, some also with fee.

This is only the first step: if you 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, you can join an “inexpensive” school of journalism that, for the little sum of some thousands euro, 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. Now journalism can be your full-time job. Good luck…