Investigative journalism in the Neapolitan suburbs.
Luciana Esposito at the Forum of Mediterranean Women Journalists: the value of a pen against the camorra
By Francesca Rizzo
He was 18 years old the day he witnessed the death of a friend who was the victim of a robbery attempt. “I stayed for a long time wondering why, and when I started writing to find an answer, I found myself doing this work.”
In Ponticelli she was born and raised, in Ponticelli her profession was born: the one that resulted in Napolitan, an online newspaper that denounces the degradation of the most problematic neighborhoods of Naples. Luciana Esposito also involved young people living in Ponticelli in her project to remove them from the control of the Camorra, teaching them to fight omertà with only one weapon: the pen.
In her speech at the Forum of Mediterranean Women Journalists, Luciana Esposito testifies to how difficult it is to be an investigative journalist in highly criminal contexts, and how easy it is to be marginalized, even by colleagues. Joining her at the Forum is Emanuela Bonchino, also a journalist, who for Rai News 24 produced a report with the eloquent title, “Luciana Doesn’t Give Up,” dedicated to the repeated assaults Esposito suffered because of her work. “Emanuela,” Esposito explains, “was the only one who took the responsibility to go back to that place…. Many people told my story, however, no one took this responsibility (…). It was very important: telling what is happening in the places, also allowing people to know and see those places is definitely the most beautiful and strongest way to witness the truth.”
One of the truths told by Luciana Esposito, with the collaboration of local residents, is the one related to Merola Park in the Ponticelli neighborhood: a dilapidated space forgotten by administrators. An untouchable space, however, a territory linked to the Camorra: attacking the journalist is precisely a man linked to organized crime, with ten years of imprisonment for criminal conspiracy behind him. He and his family have repeatedly physically assaulted the journalist, even attempted to kidnap her; they have struck her, and they have issued a silent warning to the neighborhood-a memento about who really rules the area.
Other threats were delivered to the journalist by the mother of Raffaele Cepparulo, the Boss of the Barbudos who died in an ambush in the Sanità neighborhood: according to the woman, Luciana Esposito is guilty of the murder “because she said that my son was a camorrista because he wore tattoos,” as reported by the journalist herself. Intimidation by the entire family followed one after another, until not only the Sanità neighborhood, but the entire historic center of the city became a “red earth” for the reporter.
Yet Luciana Esposito does not give up, despite the fact that the support of colleagues like Emanuela Bonchino is just an exception: “The biggest broadside in favor of my attackers,” she denounces, “first came from the Neapolitan press itself. The struggle to find a “why” in the Neapolitan neighborhoods continues, joining the fight of those everywhere who are fighting to the sound of denunciations.
The Neapolitan journalist’s support for the work of her colleague Marilù Mastrogiovanni comes with a strong appeal to the audience, to adults but also to the many university students present at the Forum: “So many times we hear ourselves asking, “What can we do for you, how can we help you?” Simply by sharing our work, by making the power of the pen win to make legality prevail.”