Journalists in Calabria, the stronghold of the ‘Ndrangheta mafia clan, are most at risk, with 89 out of the every 1,000 members registered with the Order of Journalists, receiving “verbal and physical threats”, according to a study by the research group, Istituto Demoskopika.
The next most under threat are journalists in Basilicata, Sicily, the home of the Camorra, and Campania.
Giuseppe Soluri, the president of the Order of Journalists for Calabria told The Local that the frequency and level of threats “had become more serious” in recent years, adding that it also reflected the political and economic constraints affecting the region.
The severity of the situation was highlighted recently by a rare move by the Italian government to give Calabrian journalist Michele Albanese the level of protection usually only given to anti-mafia judges.
Albanese’ stories about clans linked to the ‘Ndrangheta network in Gioia Tauro provinces landed him with threats that the police took seriously enough to provide him with an escort, he told The Local.
“I was seriously threatened by someone over the phone,” he said.
“The last time it happened was a year ago. But after reporting the most recent threat, the police decided to give me protection.”
Raffaele Rio, an economist at Demoskopika, pointed to the mafia writer Roberto Saviano, who has a permanent police escort, as the only other example of an Italian journalist to have been given such level of protection.
“The fact that the state made this move shows how serious the threats to his life were,” Rio told The Local, adding that it is “unthinkable” that journalists have to endure intimidation, albeit at different levels of severity, simply for doing their jobs.