O. Fallaci evokes the need for authentic journalism

Valentina Auliso is an Italian/Polish journalist and activist. Besides experience in journalism, she has worked for the Youth Department of the Council of Europe, Youth Express Network where she is currently Vice President, and Greenpeace UK. She has also been active in the No Hate Speech Movement, the Red Cross and Amnesty International. Valentina has lived in Italy, France, Portugal and the UK and speaks Italian, Polish, English, French, Portuguese and Spanish.

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A well-known personality

During the seventies and eighties Oriana Fallaci became a well-known war reporter all over the world.  Her books were published everywhere because of her personality, audacity and capacity to reach the most crucial world leaders of the time. Her interviews are part of the history of journalism now, as they bring up the truth through her incredible art of storytelling.

At that time, some of the best Universities of the United States invited her to speak about justice, global truth and modern journalism. Her books were, and will remain international bestsellers.

Love at first sight

When I first came across Oriana Fallaci’s books, there was a picture of her in the cover; her eyes were so eloquent and expressive. For me, it was obvious she was someone who had seen a lot in the world, wars, conflicts, and human rights violations. I bought “A man”, and after reading, thought it was one of the most powerful books I had read until that moment. Still today, I believe it is unforgettable: “What’s the point anyway — of suffering, dying? It teaches us to live, boy. A man who does not struggle does not live, he survives.”

Oriana reminds us of the need for authentic journalism

A controversial Italian journalist famed for her interviews and war reports but notorious for her IslamophobiaLiz McGregor and John Hooper - The Guardian

This passionate and powerful voice of the 20th Century was forever bold and brazen in her dissection of politics, power and ego, and their devastating effects on democracies everywhereGiselle Fernandez - Journalist and author
Oriana Fallaci was arguably the most extraordinary journalist Italy has ever produced. Her tough character was formed by early years helping her Partisan parents defy the Germans occupying Florence and enable Allied soldiers to escapePeter Popham - The Independent
The journalist to whom virtually no world figure would say noElizabeth Mehren - The Los Angeles Times

Oriana Fallaci was born into a working-class family, her father was a leader of an underground movement in Florence during the Second World War, where he recruited Oriana as an assistant. She spent much of her childhood with him in the partisan bands, helping Allied soldiers escape through enemy lines. Politics was in her blood from the start and her only obsession was the Truth: to write about the Truth, to speak about the Truth, and to enhance the Truth.

She studied at the Faculty of Medicine in Florence. Everybody in her family would have expected her to study literature or classical studies. She never doubted herself as a journalist or as a writer, but she made the choice of studying something indirectly related to her work; she understood that to be a great journalist, she needed to learn about how to be precise, make choices with precision and also learn about human physiology.

Nevertheless, she started reading ‘non mollare’ from a young age. When she first joined “non mollare”, a local newspaper, her role was to deliver the copies. She took her job with commitment and amazing motivation: “the most intelligent and intellectual men and women were writers, my role was to take the copies from a clandestine paper print station and delivering the copies where Nazis or fascist wouldn’t find it. I remember once, risking my life because I wanted to save fifty copies but there was a bomb attack going on, so I needed to stay calm and hide myself.” She affirmed, “The best thing for me was not to deliver the newspaper to other people, but rather for me to read the news of the real ongoing events, to learn about my right of being informed. Yes, to use my duty to be free, because freedom is a duty first, and then a right”.

What does her journalism mean?

“I came here today, to share with you what I think about journalism, the one I do, the one I believe in”. No sign of timidity for the petite woman at Amherst College during a debate organised in 1976. “I pay the price to do what I do, do not think the world does not give me a hard time; of course it does, when the truth is being told, the world reacts, as activists as me, they are being marginalised because it is not politically correct.” She was convinced that journalism was the good reason why political activity was not belonging anymore only to the small upper classes, politics was becoming an active global participative endeavour.

The reason why she always defended Politics from criticism was because at that time Europe was under a power threat due to a lack of cultural understanding. Culture was purely part of the strategic plan of power to keep the masses uninformed and limited on their resources. Politics was a synonym of a free activism versus democracy. Politics was writing for truth, and writing for truth was the activity of journalists.

This is why, she explained, the young generations found in doing journalism a way of escaping that system, a form of expression, a possibility for real information.

Journalism was for her a real empowerment apparatus for people to find their voice, to maintain their own dignity and to fight ignorance. Her journalism did not exist to satisfy banal curiosity, her journalism was the stimulation of curiosity and provocation of ideas and debates.

The opposite idea that the USA had regarding journalism; that the activity of informing should remain factual, objective, and focus on simple observation and reporting of the facts. She was obsessed with the American Slogan: ‘stay objective, stay away from critical thinking”. She was undoubtedly and understandably against that sort of fabricated journalism. How could she remain silent when Nazis and Fascists were taking her friends away, how could she remain silent while in the Middle-east dangerous hate was spreading and killing communities due to corrupted and dirty work of the greatest world powers like the USA and Russia. She couldn’t have stayed silent, and we shouldn’t either.

Reference to today’s media role

The reasons why Oriana’ books are still famous and criticised for controversy and ambiguity, is because she refused to be a victim of power. She never pretended the audience agreed with her, but she never compromised her ideas, her beliefs, and she fought, until her last day, for the freedom of critical thinking, for objections, for the free choice of questioning.

She was studying very hard and methodically the reality and society around us. She personally took the risks of travelling and being in dangerous areas, she was reporting the most difficult conflicts of that time and she had no fear of giving a hard time to some of the most influential leaders of the world. Today, our freedom of choice is corrupted and limited by the fact that we can choose among thousands of resources of information. We can select, collect, and create our news feed. To have so many choices does not make us free citizens; it is a dangerous habit that makes us apathy readers, and far away from getting complete information of the ongoing events worldwide and main current affairs. Mass information is fast, quick, artificial and superficial. Like a twister that comes but quickly passes away.

Journalists like Oriana are out there, yet, they are the minority, and the minority will be rewarded eventually only after an entire life dedicating to saving humanity. Oriana, although supported and appreciated, nonetheless faced critics who considered her the “enemy”, the insect to eliminate. For Oriana, it was never easy, but she had a pure idea of politics, and so unique an idea of freedom of information: she thought politics to be the noblest human activity, she defined politics as the frame for any humanitarian activity, the democratic life of communities living together respectfully. She would have done everything to defend those ideas.


If Oriana’s work inspired young generations to find their voice at that time, today we can learn from her books that questioning is a sign of intelligence, which shouldn’t prevent any free citizen asking for better rights, for his or her integrity. Yet journalism is losing more and more its value and power to the audience, critical thinking leads to a respectful living environment and this is what journalists should defend every day, in every moment, at any time throughout their work.

Oriana’s work was not appreciated when she first started, but because she never compromised her work, she became a symbol of justice for many readers, publishers, and citizens. Her time coincided with a difficult challenge for democracy, there was no guarantee that Fascism would end, but it did, eventually.

As Oriana would say “I will conclude with a question, and an answer. The question is so, what we should do, we as writers if not writing. The answer is; we should do what we always did, what we know how to do, what we were born to do. To tell life and so truth without fear, without falling never, to anticipate the events, to provoke them, to participate in the history process by denunciating, condemning, predicting. To be direct, to be brave and ask the right question with no fear to be intimidated. To intervene, always, like a mosquito that bites. To offer our ideas as healthy food, to stay on the humanity side, to suggest changes, good changes. Lastly, to fall in love with innovation and hope for the future and when that future comes, to predict again, to denounce again, to intervene again. To be direct again. This is our destiny my friend and we yell at it and we love it.” (Oriana Fallaci, My voice is tired more than my heart)


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