|Interview with Antonella Ricciardi|
… “I wish to say that I can share all, part of or none of the content of an interview, and publish it in all three cases: an interview is above all proof, a document which integrates already existing sources and itself becomes a new source, for which it is important as it especially informs the reader.”
CANZANO – Does writing and creating a personal website in order to
divulge both your own ideas as well as the thoughts of people spontaneously
interviewed by you, then gradually publishing the articles on various
journalistic websites give you the satisfaction of being part of the
confusing, mixed-up mass-media world?
The idea of the website is to give a global vision of my work, which is particularly dedicated to highlighting rare news items, shedding even more light onto events which are not usually covered yet which deserve more attention. Although the website deals with many in-depth articles regarding Palestine and Iraq, lands which are always in the news these days, even if sometimes in a negative sense, I believe to have greatly highlighted circumstances which are usually left in the background, even if we are dealing with fundamental events, conflicts which take place in these unfortunate territories. My intention is even more evident when we speak of the interviews, by means of which I have attempted to let people know further details of the more emarginated and/or alternative political areas, without distinctions of right and left-wing parties and in this way I have also learned to comprehend them further. Therefore, these are the main motivations for which the existence of my website has a sense and therefore it is also a source of satisfaction for me. Naturally, however, not exactly everything on it follows this pattern, given that some articles were commissioned by others and I had the duty of carrying them out this task. The most part of the articles though, have been composed by myself and subsequently proposed to one or more newspapers, in fact I had already imagined that, for thematic reasons I could refer to; in other cases, the subject of several articles has been decided together with the directors.
CANZANO – In the third millennium, where equality and
individual rights seem not to be of interest to any one anymore and what with
Islam advancing further and further across our continent with an increasing
number of veiled women in our country, do you, as a woman, feel as though your
safety is guaranteed, both as a journalist and as a global citizen?
RICCIARDI – Both in my private and in my professional life I have met people who have behaved in a chauvinistic manner, yet fortunately I have not been victim of any serious event connected to such which has influenced my work or even only worrying me slightly. In the world of work, I believe that my freedom of choice has been totally respected by the directors (male) I have had; also with the people I have interviewed (the majority of them were male), whether they were left-wing or right-wing supporters, whether they were Christians or Muslims, I haven’t had any particular problems. To tell the truth, men with any kind of particular chauvinistic behaviour whom I have met during my personal life so far, often, in my opinion, have assumed certain manners of presenting themselves in order to hide their own insecurity: therefore they were very bold yet fragile at the same time... Having said this, however, I do not deny that a problem of this nature exists, both in Italy and worldwide. In my opinion, there is no particular danger linked to the presence of Muslims in Italy as regards matters of costume, in fact, quite on the contrary, I believe that cultural Imperialism greatly regards that of a Western nature, which tends to be transmitted, sometimes even using military means, to some of their States (without forgetting, however, that the majority of the citizens who were against this were also of a western origin). Certain Westerners live in Arab-Muslim Countries, other Arab-Muslims live in Western Countries: with the difference, however, that the first of them arrived in those lands so as to orientate themselves there as bosses... even here, however, it is necessary to distinguish these populations from the governments, considering that the great majority of the Europeans did not want this. I am particularly grateful to you for having asked me this question, that you allow me to express myself freely here, coming more specifically to the question of Islam, and therefore to a subject which I frequently come across in my work... As regards the question of the veil, I think that it is error to both to impose it and to ban it from public areas: both of these have occurred in different Muslim Countries (for example, respectively, in Iran and in Turkey). However there are many Islamic Countries in existence where you can freely choose whether or not to wear a veil (a part from possible family pressures). In the part of Tunisia which I have personally visited, for example, almost half of the women that I have had the possibility to see went around with their heads uncovered. It is important to remember that the veil is not prescribed by the Koran, which simply recommends a decent manner of dressing oneself. The veil therefore is worn as a symbol of an orderly, respectful behaviour, with respects for oneself and towards others. However, the veil is for certain aspects and above all it is simply part of the local fashion. Here, we have a greater variety in the way we dress, but basically even we attain to certain dress rules: if I wanted to go out into the street in my city wearing for example a sari, the kind of typical dress worn by Indian women (which are also extremely beautiful), I would be taken for someone who was dressed in order to celebrate Carnival... Then there are different types of veil: certainly they are many differences between them – the hijab (a kind of simple foulard, usually white ), the chador (a black robe with which covers also the head), the famous burqa (which moreover is not widespread in Arab Countries, but especially in Afghanistan, and, to a lesser extent in Pakistan and Kashmir)... The use of the veil in Arabia was already widespread in the pre-Islamic era and varieties of the veil but not of Muslim origins exist also in other parts of the world: for example the veil included in certain Indian saris, several head coverings used in rural Sardinia etc.... Some types of veil are also of an ornamental nature, conferring an orderly behaviour, similar to that of a Madonna, to the woman who is wearing it. Also St. Paul advised Christian women to cover their heads, even if such a tradition has never become habitual in Christianism. Look, if I was in the position of the Muslim women I wouldn’t wear the veil as a uniform, that is always: this is because I think that, said without animosity, men (whether they are European or Arabs this doesn’t change a great deal), moreover they don’t deserve it: in the sense that effectively that kind of clothing can encourage behaviour which are more respectful, both by men and women and at the same time it partially hides women’s beauty...however, as far as I have been able to see, usually men, whether they are Europeans or Arabs, never really despise women who are extremely "easy", superficial, and so for me it is not worth, even more so, sacrificing oneself too much in order to please the opposite sex. Certainly there are women who are oppressed by male power in Muslim Countries, but it is right that one must not confuse patriarchal societies with Islam full stop. This same oppression exists also, both in similar and different versions, in many other Countries in the world: I remember for example a wonderful book which told the true story of Phoolan Devi: she was an Indian woman, a Hindu (therefore she belonged to another very ancient culture with extremely high aspects), she became a female bandit in order to fight the wrongdoings that she had suffered due to reasons relating to caste and gender. This book spoke about, for example, the fact that in certain Indian country villages a single woman could only speak to men belonging to her own family whilst she was awaiting her marriage (usually arranged by the families). Instead in Europe there is mainly another kind of chauvinism which, even if it usually does not materially force people to behave in a certain way, it is no less pervasive: that which proposes woman as an object, that regarding sentimental and sexual consumerism. Emancipation which is encouraged is often that regarding sentiments, proposing female models which behave themselves mainly in a male manner, which in my opinion do not exactly follow the direction of evolution, in the sense of the elevation of the human being.
CANZANO – Within the Internet universe one can find everything; as regards the people you have interviewed do you make use of it or, do you have different criteria of choice from those which are offered by online information?
RICCIARDI – I will begin to answer you by specifying that sometimes I choose the people to interview myself (and this happens in the majority of the cases), other times I am asked to interview someone, by directors and sometimes by friends of the person who would like to be interviewed by me; in other cases still (very few cases however), the people who would like to be interviewed ask me if it is possible for me to carry out an interview. To some extent I manage to contact the people in question who subsequently I interview by means of the Internet network, on other occasions I am given information by directors, fellow journalists, people who are interested in those publications; in other occasions the possibility of contacts is given to me by common acquaintances, by people who are interested by the fact that such an interview take place. You were quite right in saying that on the Internet you can find anything you want: I suppose that this refers to the content of the answers in the interviews. Firstly, I wish to say that I can share all, part of or none of the content of an interview, and publish it in all three cases: an interview is above all proof, a document which integrates already existing sources and itself becomes a new source, for which it is important as it especially informs the reader. From a human point of view, I certainly prefer to interview people with whom there is a certain affinity... in this sense, in my work I have not made any differences as regards political colour, and, when it has been possible for me, I have offered more space to those who support themes which I believe in: for example, in favour of the self-determination of the populations, for the respect of minorities, against the various types of imperialism and wars of aggression, for socialism, for the protection of nature and people who belong to weaker categories, animals.... These arrangements are usually supported within the radical areas both in the left-wing and in the so-called right-wing, National socialists... (according to the levels, groups to which the denomination is referred). I do not accept the publication of information which is objectively false, especially when one wishes to let it pass for information which is objectively true: this is a different matter from making legitimate hypotheses, even if only hypothetical which contrast with the most widespread version of certain events. This type of tendency towards lying for me results instead as being also of a pathological nature: according to me it is the same as wanting to pass a dead person off as being alive, after having seen him die.... I have always been against to left-wing sectarianism (even if I do not have any problems in publishing interviews also regarding this type of person, who at times however, for other aspects, have certain good ideas), but I must say that I detest those who love Nazi-Fascism not for that which it really represented, with people who adhered to this for ideal reasons and with cruel criminals which certainly tagged along, but really for the image of it which is portrayed by a good part of the mass media: that of absolute evil. In summary, naturally I do not freely publish anything as regards he who affirms aberrant injurious things and neither those wishing to pass false circumstances off as true ones: a case of this kind in my work is unique, in the sense that usually it does not happen. There are however people (even if they are only a small minority and don’t count at all) who due to a particular perversion really love the monstrous image which a certain ideology gives: I do not which to give space whatsoever to people of this nature. I see them as being similar to people who I absolutely detest, that is, for example, the maniacs of the Circeo, Ludwig, to the assassins of the Uno Bianca who killed helpless women, the various types of "different" and emarginated people: tramps, gypsies, coloured people, prostitutes, etc... One thing is to criticise (whether it be right, wrong or at least partially questionable but it is definitely legitimate) members belonging to other populations as well as minorities of whatever nature, another is to keep having a go at different categories of people due to the fact that they are so: this is disgusting, and, when I choose who to interview, I am not interested at all in interviewing this type of person. I love he who has a certain sense of honour and who; even if he makes a mistake, at least he has made it in good faith. It can certainly be useful to publish certain ideas of someone also in order to report them, without doubt; however in those cases I would prefer to use a different form to that of the interview.
CANZANO – In your work as a journalist, as a young woman coming from South Italy, do you find yourself hindered in order to become visible by the National Press and with regards to the ‘big names” of female Italian journalists?
RICCIARDI - Look, I surely come across difficulties in entering the world of the great National press: I think however that this depends on factors which for many aspects are different from those of being a woman. Previously we spoke of the conditions in which Muslim women and those in the Southern part of the world find themselves... I am an Italian woman from the South, nominally I am Catholic, and I also meet with significant details, even if I have collaborated with over twenty journalistic bodies both traditional newspapers and telematic journals. The minor opportunities derive, in my opinion, mainly from my geographical location, both as regards my original and my present location: as I am in the provincial area, I meet with fewer contacts, with fewer newspaper headlines which deal with certain subjects upon which I could make myself known even more. Even the option of transferring to a bigger city is somewhat uncertain, given that there one usually finds these positions already occupied by those who are resident there. I believe that the fact that one lives in a provincial area, whether it be in the North or in the South, may create greater problems with respects to living in the South in general, whereas moreover it is more common for people to graduate than in the North. Even if I have a degree with honours, I think (at least for the moment), for example, that it is not convenient for me to make use of this Journalism Degree... the Degree (in many Faculties) it is necessary for professional journalists, who become such due to competitions: I am a freelance journalist, and, should I win a competition in order to become a professional journalist, then I could dedicate myself solely to this job, due to the fact that the position as a professional journalist is a competence which is so specialised that it cannot be combined very easily with other working activities. However, in the field of Journalism you can easily find exploitation, illegal employment (in black), precarious work, which I think is not convenient, except for the fact that if one is not very well-known, you can pass to this superior level, but this does not leave many other paths open. In short, at present, even for those who are enrolled in the Journalist’s Association, whether he be a freelance or a professional journalist... often pay and/or at least a decent pay is not guaranteed. I am not lying when I say that one often jokes about the fact that the journalistic field of work is a very desirable environment, for which many people, in order just to belong to this sphere, accept conditions which otherwise would be unacceptable. The problem is also that what seems to be a temporary compromise tends subsequently to become permanent. Furthermore, many small newspapers, actually more prestigious and independent than many others, can really experience difficulty in paying its own journalists, whilst larger newspapers are often independent, due to the fact that they are compromised by means of certain political alliances. In my opinion it is better therefore to integrate Journalism with some other kind of activity, for example teaching in the classical and scientific high schools, etc..., instead of aiming at only one objective. A good idea may be also that opening your own newspaper, so as not to depend very much on others: this is a possible option for those of us enrolled in the Journalist’s Association. With regards to the comparison to the great female names within the Journalism field, according to me often there is discrimination between those who work in widely distributed newspapers and those who work in small publishing and this is not due to whether one is male or female, but in what is written... Naturally a woman can have many difficulties in the profession if she is also a wife and a mother, given that in reality, she would have also work to carry out at home, but this is the case for all women in this situation who work outside the home (even if there are jobs which leave relatively more free time with respects to others: for example, teaching). Studying the subject in further detail regarding the content of what is written; I must say that, considering the fact that there are several colleagues, great journalists of the national press, many of which have found it easier professionally due to the fact that they are particularly available as regards self-censorship, conformism, compromising with the strong powers-that-be and following tendencies. In my opinion it is not a sign of high professionalism uncritically following the flow of the current or what is presumed as being such, also if you don’t often follow the slightest, merest instincts of a certain public: alternatively it is great to try to propose subjects to those who follow us, to try to show these because they can prove to be interesting, which can be a form of altruism and therefore of evolution the fact that one takes to heart the stories of those who you don’t personally know. In my articles, I have often dealt with “uncomfortable” subjects " looking at them from "uncomfortable" points of view, for example regarding the battle of the Palestinian population: it is therefore natural, unfortunately, that these kinds of pieces are more difficult to insert into the widely-distributed press. Anyway, I have always had very professional directors, which even if they are not directly involved in this matter and in others linked to it, they are neither Arabs nor Jews, etc..., they have followed my work with care and trust, leaving me substantially the maximum freedom in expressing myself. It is also difficult that certain minor publications, but quite a few copies of which have also been published, become more well-known, given the habit of avoiding showing such in several press reviews of these alternative newspapers, even if they invite you to do so for this purpose. Above all however, in the present society, the development of on-line newspapers open more positive and flourishing prospectives, given that in this way it is easier to access certain sources and to allow precious news which otherwise would rarely be communicated through to multitudes of people.
Antonella Ricciardi, born in S. Maria Capua Vetere (province of Caserta, Italy) on 7th January 1979, has a degree in Philosophy with honours from the Federico II University in Naples, and she is a freelance journalist. Her articles have been published by the following journalistic bodies, with which she has collaborated and she currently collaborates: Altrasinistra, L'altra voce, Rinascita, Avanguardia, Orion, the Quotidiano di Caserta, Ordine Futuro, Ciaoeuropa, Caserta 24 ore, Corriere di Aversa e Giugliano, Deasport, Comunitarismo, RNN [Rojname News Network (Kurdish newspaper published in nine languages)], Casertanews, Dea Notizie, Giustizia Giusta, the new Gazzetta di Caserta, Calvi Risorta News, Il Popolo d'Italia, ABC Flash-Paris, Romstampa, ICN-News (International Christian Network). Her interviews of important public figures include, amongst others, Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, Erich Priebke, two interviews of Alessandra Mussolini, Giovanni Di Stefano (Saddam Hussein’s lawyer), Fatma Salih Uthman (Kurdish activist), Sammi Alaà (exponent of the Iraqui Patriotic Alliance), Stefano Delle Chiaie and Marco Ferrando.
[This interview has been published in the following newspapers: Dea Notizie, Caserta24ore, Corriere di Aversa e Giugliano, Iniziativa Meridionale, Qui Calabria and Italia Sociale]