Fanpage: the Italian website that went from gossip to award-winning scoops | Italy


It was 7.55am one February day in 2018 when members of an elite Italian police squad raided the Naples workplace of small information website. The day past it had revealed hyperlinks between elected politicians and organised teams in an unlawful waste dumping racket, and its workers already at their desks regarded on incredulously as the officers searched via their information.

The story despatched shock waves via the political institution and helped make what it’s at the moment: one in all Italy’s most profitable information websites.

“That day was a turning level,” mentioned Sacha Biazzo, the journalist behind the investigation, who, with a hidden digital camera and the assist of a former mobster, filmed conferences between members of the Neapolitan mafia and politicians.

“Since then, folks realised we weren’t only a small on-line information and gossip outlet. They started to view us as an investigative website that may strike at the coronary heart of political energy. Readers started to ship pizzas to our workplace as a gesture of gratitude for what we had accomplished.”

Sacha Biazzo, investigative journalist for Fanpage.
Sacha Biazzo, investigative journalist for Fanpage. {Photograph}:

Almost 4 years on, and now with 67 journalists and editors, Fanpage has change into a thorn in the facet of politicians, mobsters and customary criminals, and will get 3 million distinctive guests a day.

When it was based in the early 2000s, the outlook was fully completely different. “At the starting, Fanpage was only a Fb web page containing basic information and movies on a variety of matters,” mentioned Francesco Cancellato, its editor-in-chief.

“Over time, the writer realised that we may aspire to do one thing completely different, so he began hiring journalists to write the first articles. From a Fb web page, Fanpage grew to become a information outlet with few opinion tales and a whole lot of information that ranged from gossip to crime. Then we opened an investigative workforce […] our objective was to convey new leads to the consideration of the authorities investigating corruption and criminality.”

Nicknamed Backstair, the Fanpage investigative workforce is staffed by undercover journalists with hidden cameras whose assignments can final up to two years. Its said objective is to “attain the highest ranges of energy with out succumbing to vertigo” and “plumb the depths of the darkest corners of society … filming every thing, verifying all of it and publicising the fact.”

In a digital age that has offered challenges to some conventional fashions of journalism, Fanpage is breaking a few of the greatest scandals involving the church, politicians, businessmen and criminals.

The Backstair investigative team
The Backstair investigative workforce {Photograph}: Fanpage

In 2017 a Fanpage journalist posing as a seminarian recorded an elderly priest’s account of sexual abuse of dozens of hearing-impaired folks in an institute in Verona.

This October a collection of video investigations on the relationship between rightwing political events and neofascist actions, together with alleged monetary contributions, was awarded the European Award for Investigative and Judicial Journalism, and led to an MEP from the far-right Brothers of Italy get together being placed under investigation by the Milan prosecutor’s workplace. The MEP mentioned in a press release suspending himself from the get together that he had by no means obtained unlawful funding and didn’t maintain racist, antisemitic or extremist views.

Corrado Formigli, a TV host who rebroadcast the investigation on his PiazzaPulita talkshow on the TV channel La7, mentioned Fanpage’s energy was its long-term dedication to tales. “It has created an investigation workforce able to engaged on a venture for months, if not years, which may be very troublesome at the moment given that newspapers and tv are sometimes compelled to take care of present affairs,” he mentioned. “Behind Fanpage’s use of hidden cameras there’s a deep, thorough work which includes making a false id for the undercover journalist and a affected person strategy to sources. The top result’s extraordinary and it really works nice.”

Over the final 4 years dozens of individuals concerned in illicit actions have been arrested after Fanpage investigations and quite a few politicians have resigned. The positioning continues to flip a revenue and has opened newsrooms in Rome and Milan.

What makes Fanpage much more exceptional is its southern Italian origins. It was based in Naples, the greatest metropolis in one in all Europe’s most deprived areas, affected by excessive unemployment and enduring social and financial challenges.

“From Naples, Fanpage has not solely reported on the south’s issues, it has additionally employed many younger southern Italians, a lot of whom struggled to discover a job in Italian mainstream journalism,” mentioned Adriano Biondi, who began at Fanpage as an intern and is now its deputy editor.

“The south, and Naples specifically, are a few of the most culturally fertile areas of Europe. There is a gigantic untapped useful resource when it comes to human capital, particularly amongst ladies. If we think about schooling, ladies have increased ranges than males in Italy, but Italian ladies have a few of the highest unemployment charges in Europe.”

Staff at work in the office
Employees at work in the workplace {Photograph}: Fanpage

The vast majority of Fanpage’s journalists and editors are underneath 30. The oldest is 44. Most of Fanpage’s distinctive guests are of their 20s. Fanpage’s success relies on not simply hiring younger folks, but additionally its skill to communicate to them.

From the starting it invested closely in its social media profile. Its YouTube group equals that of La Repubblica and Corriere della Sera mixed, and it is usually the solely Italian information website with greater than 500,000 TikTok followers.

“Fanpage’s benefit is that of getting reached that huge demographic of younger, disillusioned readers who didn’t observe the established dailies as a result of that they had no intention of studying the each day information,” mentioned Anna Girardi, 27, the deputy political editor. “We knew that if we needed to embody them, we had to speak their language. Protecting political or monetary points means having an consciousness that there are readers who could have by no means heard a few of the technical terminology.”

Cancellato mentioned: “Our fundamental concern is rarely to develop previous. We mustn’t make the mistake of rising previous with our readers. We’ve no intention of taking on La Repubblica or Corriere. We’re Fanpage, we’re one thing else, and our need is to change the manner information is completed in Italy.”