Passione for Journalism

May 15, 2013 / Local Interest
Perugia, Umbria
Young Italian women follow with interest a panel discussionAs we waited to hear the panel discussion “Syria – civil war or media war?”, I asked Giacomo, a 24 year old political science major from Rome why he was attending the four-day Festival Internazionale del Giornalismo.

“We live in a global society,” he said, “and we have to be able to interpret, understand world events – superficiality is not enough.”

I have been attending this extraordinary festival for years and two aspects always amaze me: the long lines of Italian teens and young adults on Friday and Saturday nights waiting to hear talks by journalists from around the world, and the questions they ask – with passione – so evidently based on well-founded familiarity with the topics, such as China’s economy, the Arab spring, the Israel-Palestine situation, Tunisian women post-revolution, Russia’s protest movement, technology use in the US presidential race, the environment, violence against women, the press in eastern Europe, ethnic wars in Sudan, the European Union, data journalism in southern Europe, the Italian state and organized crime…

Journalists questioning the media role in the Syria warThe speakers? World-renowned journalists, Italian politicians, authors, cyber lawyers, professors of journalism, reporters. newscasters, film directors, activists, cartoonists – and not only. Harper Reed, lead technology officer for US political campaigns, filled Perugia’s 13th-century Notaries’ Hall. As they listened, young people took notes and photos on iphones, ipads, and computers while sitting under centuries-old frescoes. What an interweaving of the past, the present, the future.

As we waited in the long line for Reed’s presentation, I chatted with a friendly, ebullient group of young people from Lombardia. One of them, Irene, had met Reed walking down the street and asked him for an interview. I asked her why the interview was important to her. “I am seeking the people who inspire,” she answered, “those who are the inspiration for a new type of communication.”

I know Harper Reed’s talk inspired you, Irene. You and the many young people I met in Perugia – inspired me. Che passione!

A 13th-century frescoed Notaries' Hall now hosts world-class journalists

Perugia sunset view  martyrdom
In the frescoed Notaries' Hall, I-pods, I-pads, computers, I-phones all at work taking in the news

All the way from Turin…to spend 4 days at this fetival

Anne Robichaud

by Anne Robichaud

An authorized Umbrian tour guide, Anne and her husband Pino worked the land for many years in the 1970’s so rural life, rural people, rural cuisine are una passione for her. See Umbria from “the inside”: join her May 2017 ten-day tour centered on discovering Umbria, Anne’s Umbria.

See for more on her Umbria tours. Do see for news on the Assisi apartment – and Assisi countryside guest house – she and Pino now rent out.

Anne writes frequently on Umbria and other areas of Italy. Read about her annual U.S. Feb/Mar cooking classes and lectures, as well as her numerous Italy insights on her blog.

24 Responses to “Passione for Journalism”

  1. Linda Boccia

    Much as we love comments about foods and festivals as well as Italian history etc., we also need contemporary comments like this article about what is happening in modern Italy. Thanks for reporting on it as we do not receive news enough outside of the U.S. for those of us still living here. Every time we live in Italy for several months at a time I am always amazed at how the U.S. is viewed on world news in the evening. More honest presentations than the often biased U.S. networks.

  2. I was impressed with Anne Robichaud, concerns as she attended the panel discussion on “Syria-Civil War or Media War?”
    “We live in a global society…superficiality is not enough.”
    With over 95,000 dead, thousands more innocent victims wounded, and over a million refugees who fled and the topic discussed is “Syria..Civil War or Media War?” How much more superficially can you respond to such a global crises? The topic is superficial enough, but it is phrases in either/or thinking? I hope this next generation can take us to deeper and higher conceptual levels of discussion of the human global conditions.

  3. Many thanks, Anne, for your coverage of the young journalists/aspirants. As a long-ago student-journalist myself, and a former student of the Universita` per Stranieri in Perugia, I took a special interest in your account. Please, more like this!

  4. J. Kevin Crocker

    HI Annie,

    Wonderful to see you change it up and write about other important happenings and events. Can’t wait.


  5. Ginny Siggia

    When I was in Rome, in a small quiet hotel on a small quiet street, I was awakened at about 6:30 by the growing chattering outside the window. It was a group of young people (teens to twenty-somethings I’d guess) gathering for some kind of demonstration. I went to breakfast* and the proprietor came up to the four of us. He said he wanted to call a taxi early for those who were departing, concerned that the impending demonstration would hinder transport to the train station. He did, they left with no problem, but he was absolutely right about the demonstration. They left as a crowd, and pretty soon the quiet little street was once more quiet. It was, as far as I could tell, a relatively civilized group; they seemed to be adamant but entirely pleasant. I do not remember the cause of the demonstration, but it did not feel at all frivolous. I got the distinct impression that whatever it was they were protesting (or supporting), they knew what they were talking about.

    * the woman who oversaw the breakfast bar chatted with us for a while and then insisted that we have REAL cappuccino, not what she clearly considered the slop from the machine (which was by no means slop!). A few minutes later we had steaming foaming cups of an even better cappuccino. The highlight of breakfast on the very lovely patio was a gecko who kept an eye on us from the safety of his wall. He was probably 8″ long including tail. Adorable!

  6. Janice

    Thank you Anne for reporting on the conference. It is so important that the event was packed with passionate young people who will think about and talk about these issues. Although Italy is one of the most valuable and beautiful repositories of the past – that we never tire of seeing or hearing about — it is so important to hear these first-hand accounts of contemporary events. Brava Anne.

  7. Iris Mathewson

    Such an interesting article and a lovely tribute to young people. Thank you Anne.

  8. Evanne Brandon Diner

    This is such a wonderful note, Anne.Your photos reminded me of the days when we were first living in Italy, living in and attending Italian language class in Perugia at the university. Although Perugia is a beautiful city, it also stands out for the students in its university; how much we learned by sitting around after class with other students and discussing the events of the day.Thank you so much, Anne.

  9. Pat Carney Ceccarelli
    Pat Carney Ceccarelli

    Many thanks for this report Anne! I am so grateful that my children spent their teenage years in Italy and as the years pass I am constantly reassured and impressed with young Italian teenagers. When I see a group of young Italian boys in a group I feel safe, sadly not so in many other places. I am impressed by their intelligence and basic kindnesses in spite of passing thru a really difficult period when they have few future job opportunities.
    A good report Anne and good to be reminded of causes for optimism!

  10. Anne Robichaud

    Thanks to all and John Bellanti, the discussion “Syria – Civil War or media war” was not “superficial” at all but highly informative.and one of the journalists was a Syrian journalist living now in the UK kidnapped in SYria and held for about 2 wks..and all 4 journalists discussed the importance in getting out the news from Syria, fact-finding and how local news sources in Syria are found, consulted and relied on or not for info

    • John Bellanti

      Anne, thanks for the addition information on the panel discussion. That is great to hear. John b

  11. Nancy Mazza

    Hi Annie,
    Very impressive. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. I agree with all of the comments.

  12. I am inspired just to read about this annual event. Much appreciation to you Anne for shining a light that illuminates us and inspires us. I especially liked reading that so many young people are “impassionistas” about all of the notizie del mondo.
    Gives me hope.

  13. Jane Ellis

    Wonderful to get this different perspective on what’s happening in Umbria. Very heartening. And a reflection, too, of the breadth of Anne Robichaud’s interests. Best guide ever, anywhere.

  14. Giuseppe Spano
    Giuseppe Spano

    yes today many seek to speak up and also be pro-active in movements to improve italia,environmentally, reclamation of land and properties and politically, this is true all throughout italia from nord to sud,est e ovest. our family in Gravina is active Ezio v. Spano a graduate of Padua U. and a editore with Il Grillo (a passion for journalism) incites many projects look him up on facebook, get involved!

  15. Mary Cappiello

    Loved this article, Annie. You are again expanding our knowledge and appreciation for all things Italian, past and present. It is wonderful to know that young people are eager to really delve into the world’s problems by taking a weekend to hear first hand accounts of the things most of us read about in our morning newspapers, or on-line, that are usually superficial accounts of the previous day’s happenings.

    You are lucky to be able to partake in this all in such elegant and historic settings.

  16. david fleming

    Excellent note anne; Having spent nearly 35 years in media/journalistic endeavors it warms my heart to hear of the passione of this group. So crucial that younger generations develop views on world events beyond life cycle of latest video game. Hopefully principles of fairness/journalistic integrity are stressed as well. Big issue these days in USA.

  17. Janet MacLeod

    So sorry I missed the 2013 Festival Internazionale del Giornalismo but the memories of the 2012 still linger. Stimulating discussions and panels with probing questions from the students and the audience made for a challenge for me in the Italian language.

  18. Elaine Marone

    It is always heartening to learn of the worthwhile endeavors of young people around the globe, and how grand that the youths who participated in the journalism seminars in Perugia benefitted from the varied expertise of an international panel. This opportunity must have increased the students’ fervor even more. Anne, judging from your report and photos, this group seriously has the zeal to do the challenging work of clarifying our world view. We need all the truth reporting we can get in an era of growing instant communication heavy on fiction over fact.

    Perugia is a destination in Umbria we have not yet explored but look forward to visiting it in September – especially now knowing of the vibrancy that students there impart to the city.

  19. Thank you, Anne!
    it was a pleasure to meet such a great woman, yeah I’m talking about you ;)
    hope to see you next year!In Perugia of course.

  20. Anne Robichaud

    Irene, you and all your friends inspired me…Che passione!
    IN readers, Irene is in the last photo, on the right…with a scarf.
    Irene, where can we all read more on you “young reporters”?

  21. This article was so interesting, Anne. It is wonderful to see that these young people took the time to attend this meeting.


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