On the eve of 2020, a New Year’s that also coincides with the end of the second decade of the 21st century, I wish all of La Voce di New York’s readers and contributors around the world my warmest wishes.
This time, only several months before the 7th anniversary of this paper’s existence, I must also give some alarming news regarding its health, and therefore also its future. La Voce di New York can no longer go on without adequate economic means. It has held on until now thanks to the enormous sacrifice of myself and my contributors, but it cannot continue in this manner. Managing an independent paper and remaining faithful to its fundamental values is no longer possible in the situation in which La Voce has found itself for some time now.
As I believe you well know, the paper does not receive, nor has it ever received, any form of financial support from the Italian government. The reasons — besides the various legislative obstacles of being an online newspaper only — are tied above all to the protection of its mission. I believe that a newspaper must be able to thrive mostly through the support of its readers.
Obviously, everyone knows about the major crisis that’s hitting the publishing world, especially those independent publications not owned by large corporations. A newspaper that is able to thrive thanks to those who buy it at the newsstand is on its way to extinction, while for the online versions, people continue to believe that it all should be for free. For this reason, I believe, actually by now I am convinced, that the future of independent journalism, those papers not owned by large publishing conglomerates, or worse, multinational corporations with interests other than publishing, must be established using a non-profit organizational structure.
At least, this is what is already happening in the United States, and in fact, there is no shortage of examples. That is, where the newspaper’s mission — which is that of serving the community which it addresses by providing information that is honest and credible – can be carried out thanks to the support and the voluntary donations of its readers (whatever they are willing to give) along with the support of other organizations that serve that same community. Large private companies that often have interests that lie elsewhere, out of the realm of publishing, will always be able to support a newspaper of this kind through ads or even certain types of sponsorships, but only if these do not become the largest contributions for its operations can its independence be safeguarded.
La Voce di New York is owned by a private corporation and this writer is, yes, its founder and still its director, but is also just a shareholder, and not a majority shareholder at that. Therefore, my proposal to steer the newspaper towards becoming a non-profit in order to continue its mission, without demeaning its values, remains still only a proposal: the conditions required to bring all of the VNY Corp. shareholders to an agreement have not yet been found. I continue to be hopeful, but time has long run out, at least with regards to my being able to continue to endure.
As you may have noticed, for some months now La Voce has reduced its number of publications, and while still remaining active – at the cost of enormous sacrifice – it is by now at less than half of its average daily production of the past years. In the plans for the future of La Voce, the expansion also of publishing articles in English – which is already underway – will be fundamental, in order to grow its readership even more within the community of those who are passionate about all things Italian in America, and not only that. But all this requires a minimum of resources, and La Voce must change its current corporate structure in order to save it from chronically having to survive operating on a pittance, a condition which has prevented it from meeting its challenges, from growing and strengthening itself in an adequate manner.
Writing these words while waiting to celebrate New Year’s, after almost seven years of exciting and gratifying work at La Voce, makes my heart ache. And yet, I feel that it would be a mistake and dishonest, as director, to conceal my state of mind regarding a reality that is as real as it is sad. La Voce is at risk of remaining silent!
Up to the present time this newspaper has made miracles: it has earned an important place (some say one of the most distinguished) amongst publications in Italian overseas even with its very limited means–thanks only to the skills and the solidity of the values of its contributors with whom I have the privilege of working.
From the United Nations Headquarters, we have been able to guarantee our readers information that is just and fair, precisely because we are not able to be influenced, protected as we are by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States, and ethically inspired by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Independent journalism, in the end, is this: writing and interpreting reality as it is seen at that moment; it is not to serve the interests of the current powers that be.
Therefore, at this New Year’s 2019-20, we have arrived at a crossroad for La Voce di New York that in my opinion we can no longer ignore. I still hope to continue to be its director, but only if it will be possible to preserve and uphold the conditions necessary, for our writers, to respect the relationship of trust that this Voce has with its readers, wherever they may be, in Italy or in the rest of the world.
From New York, Best Wishes for a 2020, still and forever in the name of Liberty and Beauty to all of you and your loved ones.
Translated by Emmelina De Feo
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