The ANSA Story - Ferrucio Gambino and Seth Tilet

A discussion about the Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA: literally "Associated Press National Agency") the official Italian new agency - and the print media in the 1970s in general.

ANSA is the official Italian news agency. The 'terrorist' image of Autonomy has always been a CO-PRODUCTION of the Italian judiciary and the news industry. Ferrucio Gambino is professor of Labor Relations at Padua University and one of the last remaining members of its Political Science Faculty, in which Negri also taught. At the time of this interview (Aug. 1st) he had been notified by the police that he too was under investigation.

Seth Tilet: How effective is a “Blackout” in the Italian press, how does it function, what is the leverage that’s used?

Ferrucio Gambino: The Italian bourgoisie has always worked quite informally. In the 1870’s or 1880’s, even early in this century, the Italian policy makers used to meet at the Monte Catini baths in Tuscany in the summer, and they would decide upon the next policies, especially foreign policies, while they were taking therapeutic waters there.

After 1945, some publisher published the orders that the facist regime was giving to the so called Agencia Stephane, which was the main national news agency. Every day the Agencia Stephane used to receive orders directly from the executive, sometimes straight from Mussolini. After the second World War and the fall of fascism, things have become somehow better. That is, orders may not be so direct, they can be circumvented, and they focus basically, I think, on the economics of printing and publishing. Government has a direct control on the price of cellulose and paper. It has established a so called National Organisation for Cellulose. It sets the price of newspapers, especially daily newspapers. It has a wide range of power over newspaper, TV, and radio advertising, especially through the State Owned Industry and its advertising needs. And it can manipulate also with its own dailies. II Giorno in Milan, for instance, is directly owned by state-owned ENI— E N I, the oil company. It can manipulate through its own party newspapers, for instance the daily, II Popolo, a Christian Democratic newspaper. It can manipulate through large concentrations, the largest publishing concentration being Rizzoli (Mondadove comes in second). It can intimidate or make journalists shy, at the very least, as Giorgio Bocca, the Italian journalist is saying. He says: “When an American journalist interviews a Secretary of State or the Secretary of Labor, he is bold or she is bold. In Italy, when they interview the power structure, they shy away. It is like apologizing for posing a question. So that’s one side of the story. The other side is, of course, the general political situation.

They have flair enough to smell what is happening in this country and when the tide is not high ... or when water is— how do you say that— at low ebb.

They know the ebb tide and the flow tide, let us put it that way, politically. So that accounts for large segments of the Italian press. What cannot be controlled directly through the capitalist press is controlled through the parties. Of course, the Communist Party has a daily paper, L’Unita, and it has open orders, so to speak. It has a very straight posture on the case. The Socialist Party has L'Avanti, a daily paper and it is the same thing.

Then there are the supporting papers. Paese Sera is a supporting communist daily. So that is more or less the picture, I think.

What is the connection with ANSA, how is ANSA controlled?

ANSA is directly controlled by the government and the executive in this country. ANSA representatives are chosen by government agencies. ANSA is the direct descendent of Agencia Stephane; and I am sure that in a few years, or maybe in many years, I don’t know, somebody will publish again the anthology of orders coming down from the government to ANSA every morning, as Agencia Stephane received them in the 30’s.

Did you know that the Director of the Photographic Archives at ANSA is the brother of the Director of Photographic Archives at U.P.I.?

No.

Enzo Brizzi and his brother, Renzo Romano Brizzi. I think they’re twins.