April 24, 2018 - Updated on April 25, 2018

Two Italian journalists attacked for asking questions

Screenshot from "Non e l'Arena" on TV channel La7
Reporters Without Borders (RSF) condemns the unacceptable behaviour of an Italian businessman and a former government minister who, in separate incidents last week, reacted violently to embarrassing questions from reporters. RSF calls for a response from the Italian authorities.

A simple question about the pay that former parliamentarians receive proved dangerous for Daniele Lupo, a reporter with the commercial TV channel La7. Mario Landolfi, who was communications minister in Silvio Berlusconi’s government in 2005 and 2006, responded to the question on 19 April by slapping Lupo in the face. Landolfi subsequently apologized during a TV broadcast but did not explain his behaviour.

Showing an embarrassing photo proved dangerous for Giorgio Mottola, a reporter for “Report,” a current affairs programme on the public TV channel Rai 3.

Mottola showed a sheet of paper with a photo of allegedly illegal construction projects in Ostia, a coastal resort near Rome, on 19 April to the head of Federbalneari, the national association of resort companies, and pressed him for a comment. The businessman finally responded by crumpling the sheet of paper against Mottola’s face.

“These acts of aggression are a disturbing reminder of how the climate of hostility and contempt towards journalists in more and more European countries dangerously facilitates the passage from words to action, said RSF. Responding with violence to ordinary questions from journalists is simply unacceptable and unworthy of politicians and businessmen in a democratic country. We call on the Italian authorities to react quickly in order not to allow this kind of attack to go unpunished, as it would just encourage more violence of the same kind.”

Ranked 52nd out of 180 countries in RSF's 2017 World Press Freedom Index, Italy is one of the European Union’s most dangerous countries for the media. Covering a mafia network or a criminal gang exposes reporters to often deadly risks.