Giornalisti Italiani a Londra
A NEW group of 100 London-based journalists named GIL - Giornalisti Italiani a Londra (Italian Journalists in London) - has just celebrated its first anniversary. It organised on a closed Facebook group, on LinkedIn and via email.
It is composed of Italian reporters working for UK news organisations, correspondents of the main Italian newspapers, freelances and students attending masters degrees in Journalism at universities in and around London. Some of them have developed professionally in the UK and are NUJ members; others have been living in this country for some years and are members of the Italian Order of Journalists.
One of the most common issue raised from Italian freelances in London is not getting paid work from Italian publications, both in the capital and in Italy. The Italian community in London has three printed newspapers, four online newspapers, two radio stations and several online magazines. Most of them are samples of community journalism and have only one professional reporter in the team plus an unspecified amount of volunteers as contributors.
The lucky ones get as little as £10-£15 an article. In one case a weekly printed newspaper was edited with £200 paid as expenses.
The situation is similar with Italian news organisations based in Italy, where although established "big-name" newspapers pay their correspondents, prices vary. Minimum rates are £800 a month, (or £100 for a single video story) and the market is affected by online newspapers which simply don't pay: instead, they ask professional journalists, students of journalism and academics in various subject areas to write stories for free.
Freelance Selene Luna Grandi explains: "Some asked me to swap payments with visibility. Maybe they think UK is a golden place and that writing articles or producing multimedia materials is not demanding". Selene's experience is typical. The aim of the GIL group is clear; namely, to help journalists strengthen their professional role, encourage a feeling of pride in their work and never accept unpaid roles.
The GIL group is enhanced by journalists who have obtained prestigious masters degrees and now work as editors and producers for international news organisations. The most popular masters course among Italians is at City University, London. "There are not many alternatives if you want to be a journalist but you don't come from Oxbridge", comments freelance reporter Alessandro Accorsi. "Word of mouth works well" says Alessandra Bonomolo who adds: "A British masters is an advantage for a foreign journalist in this country, as it enables them to make better use of the language and keeping in mind cultural aspects which are important in our profession".
GIL membership is free, members attend meetings thought the year and can ask for support on courses and locations for meeting and networking opportunities. Recently they met at the Italian Cultural Institute and this April's location is the Frontline Club for a meeting with Guardian journalist Ed Vulliamy.