14 assigned vacancy
A few things you should know before choosing this College
You don’t need any specific preparation, but you must have a natural interest in: the world (all of it, or at least a section of it), the news industry (a general idea of the existence of publications such as Internazionale, Limes, the Post, etc.) and narrative non-fiction (authors such as Emmanuel Carrère – ever heard of him?).
Also, keep in mind that the Reporting class works pretty much like a newsroom, so you’ll have to get used to working in groups most of the time.
What you’ll be doing over the two years
In this College you’ll find out how to interpret an item of news and the stories behind it in various ways: from snapshots (like the tweets that appear in online newspaper sites) to more wide-ranging sources (in-depth investigations that get right down to the nitty-gritty of a story, like they do at MicroMega and Limes, for example). Between these two extremes there are lots of different nuances to explore: a vast range of opportunities that you must learn how to exploit without hesitation.
You will learn how to broaden the scope of your interests, regarding both the things you write about and the ways in which you convey them. You will choose an area from the vast range of current affairs (immigration perhaps, or the Middle East, or the economy), and work on it for months.
You will try to distinguish between a news item and a story. Recounting facts requires truth and objectivity, but even though you have to stay far away from the boundaries of what constitutes fiction, you can still convey issues in a way that people won’t forget.
What you’ll be able to do by the time you leave
- you will have written news items in every possible way and for every format;
- you will have been in the newsrooms of various newspapers and worked alongside a great many journalists;
- you will have worked on several different projects (from reporting for children to more in-depth current affairs; you will have collaborated on a commission to preview a new magazine that is subsequently published; you may have designed a magazine of your own (the magazine that Reporting students set up two years ago – Iride – was one of the top 10 magazines most read in Italy for a while);
- you will have spent two years in a “training gym” for journalists. One project that our students developed from assignments set by the College’s teachers included a website that gathered all the breaking news from the local Turin elections in the 2016 campaign, with voting patterns for the various mayoral candidates;
- you will have developed an eye for news and learned to put your soul into what you write, not limiting yourself to reporting the facts, but relating the stories behind the news too;
- you will be versatile; you’ll know how to write an editorial, a live tweet and an investigation; you’ll be able to do anything that’s asked of you.
The types of projects our Reporting students get involved in vary widely: documentaries, investigations, projects that border on narrative, web portals, etc. But they all have one thing in common: none of them so far have resembled any journalism projects that we’re accustomed to. All of them, however, report a news item and reflect the values of the author who captured and saved it, so that we can experience it too.
Who is he?
Francesco Costa is 34 years old. He was born in Catania but now lives in Milan, where he is a journalist and deputy editor of Il Post. He has “a blog that has been around, in various forms, since 2003” – you can read it here. When in trouble, go big is the phrase that dominates the masthead: a rule that he believes applies in politics as in almost every other area of life. He explains it thus: “when in trouble, mediocre people downplay it, go around in circles, play it safe, and look for easy ways out and platitudes, while good politicians go on the attack and turn the situation around”.
What has he done?
Francesco has a degree in Political Science, an old card from his days as a professional football referee, and a past as a children’s party entertainer. He works with Roma Radio and has written for l’Unità, Internazionale, IL, il Foglio, l’Ultimo Uomo, Grazia, Studio, Donna Moderna and Undici. He has presented Prima Pagina, Radio 3’s press review (you can listen to the episodes from 7th to 12th January 2018 here), and he helped to write a documentary series titled La Casa Bianca, which aired on Rai Tre. With Da Costa a Costa, his account of the most recent US presidential election, he won the Spotorno International Award for New Journalism in 2016.
How did he get started?
By a lucky coincidence, he began working as a journalist the day before Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. He was the last one to arrive in the newsroom, and that evening, he tried to help out as best he could. At 3 o’clock in the morning, the newspaper was sent to be printed and the newsroom began to empty out. Francesco had no way of following the election news. He tried to sneak in to four or five hotels to scrounge off their internet, introducing himself as a journalist. Needless to say, none of the doormen fell for it. Eventually, he remembered a group of Americans he had met a few days earlier, and he joined them in a pub they had rented out specially to follow the election night action. A strange twist: years later, he returned to one of those hotels the night before taking the state exam to qualify as a journalist. When he recognised the lobby, he realised that sometimes dreams can come true.
His most recent project?
The newsletter Da Costa a Costa, which is also a podcast covering US politics. This project lasted 30 months, and Costa made several trips to the USA to prepare the 45 episodes. In Italy, he went on a launch tour with 50 stops (take that, pop stars). All this was possible thanks to over 40,000 euros donated by his readers and listeners. The best thing about this project is that he did it mostly for himself: to get back in touch with one of his biggest passions, American politics, to get back into reading, and to reawaken his curiosity on a serious level. If you want real-time updates on the very last thing he did, read Il Post or his blog, where you can find his newly published articles.
His worst moment of madness?
The Social Junk Food Map, an idea that we will never stop thanking him for.
Which aspects of Italian journalism make his blood boil?
Certain words used regardless of their true meaning, like “a shockwave through the world of finance/politics/the party”, and empty, meaningless clichés like “in turmoil” or “shrouded in mystery”; quotation marks used when no one actually said the words in question; the sidebar of shame, i.e. the right-hand column of online newspapers that contains articles devoid of any real content, clickbait pieces that destroy the paper’s reputation – precisely, the gallery with a kitten that meows Jingle Bells, the video with the stupidest own goals of all time, and the never-ending piece of spaghetti aiming to break a world record.
What has he learned from his job?
“Striving to do things well can change yourself and others” is his mantra – a maxim that holds true even outside the workplace.
What is the most common phrase that he repeats to his editorial staff?
Keep the bar high when it comes to quality. Reiterating the concept that things have to be done well.
What can you do to prepare yourself for meeting him?
In addition to his articles, read some of Il Post’s rules. One: try to be as reliable as possible. Two: explain yourself clearly. Three: don’t be afraid to point out and promote the best content, even if it means acknowledging the good work of your rivals. Four: talk like you eat, which doesn’t mean expressing yourself sloppily, but using clear language. Five: learn to be flexible.
The Master of Biennio 2016-2018 was Ezio Mauro. He’s a journalist, and he was the chief editor of the Italian newspapers La Stampa, from 1992 to 1996, and La Repubblica from 1996 to 2016.
The Master of 2017-2019 is Marco Damilano, a political journalist and a lobby correspondent. He’s director at the magazine L’Espresso. In Italy, he’s also known for his speeches during the TV show Propaganda Live.
Here’s a list of people who dropped by College Reporting during the last school years: Riccardo Luna, Evgeny Morozov, Michele Serra, Alec Ash, Gabriele Del Grande, Gianluigi Nuzzi, Diego Piacentini, Luke Schiller, Marina Petrillo, Tiziana Lo Porto, Alessandro Lostia, Enrico Mentana, Emilio Casalini, Francesco Jodice, Valerio Spada, Alina Marazzi, Daniele Scaglione, Federico Rampini, Martino Gozzi, Philip Gourevitch.