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Elena Parasiliti

 Terre di Mezzo (Italy) 14 December 2019

Elena Parasiliti is a journalist. For the past two years or so, she has been in charge of ‘Terre di mezzo – street magazine’, the historical Italian street magazine. ‘Terre di mezzo’, which is part of the International Network of Street Papers – INSP, underwent some major changes just one year ago. (729 Words) - By Eleonora Terrile


Petali Rossi

 Courtesy of Petali Rossi

Petali Rossi: On February 21st 2009 the third issue of Terre di mezzo - street magazine came out. Over ten months you went from a few hundreds founding partners to the current 1676. What would be your first evaluation of this period in terms of readership?

Elena Parasiliti:It would be a very positive review. Above all, our long-standing readers and our vendors liked Terre di mezzo - street magazine and, in our opinion, this is the greatest success of all. Many other people liked it too, people who had just heard of our magazine but had never actually taken a look at it. Many colleagues from other newspapers and magazines sent us their congratulations and encouraged us to go on, they also said they'd like to work with us in the future. We got praise about the new format, the new page layout, the contents and the use of photography - everything, basically. The current size of the magazine allows us to give room the pictures, as they immediately capture and offer us a slice of real life. Today we can also cover some specific social themes more continuatively, as the social sector has been our concern since day one. To sum up: the current magazine offers more room to reality.


PR: How did your long-standing readers and the vendors react to the changes in their magazine?

EP: As I have already said, the readers and the vendors both showed us that they liked it. Vendors today have a magazine that can be shown and sold more easily. Our long-standing readers, who were initially taken aback by the idea of subscribing to the magazine because they feared this might mean they were depriving our vendors of their job, have been reassured that this would not be the case. This is what we tell our loyal readers: "If you've always bought the magazine from the same street vendor, please keep doing it." Subscriptions are meant for those who live in cities where there are no vendors. Moreover, subscriptions can be bought as a gift, for instance and they are used to fund the production costs of our newspaper, since we are an independent magazine and, unlike other newspapers in Italy, we receive no state funding.


PR: Is You're also offering an 'internet' subscription, in which subscribers can get the magazine once a month via email. How many people chose this innovative option?

EP: Not many, so far. Just about thirty people. They are mostly people who live abroad, such as university students who are abroad with the Erasmus programme.


PR: Is Your investigative reports are one of your strengths. The latest reports you published were "Reckless Amateurs" by Ilaria Sesana and Andrea Rottini (October), "Immigration Amnesty, The Italian Way" by Carlo Giorgi (November). The first article, which is about the dangers of performance-enhancing drugs among non-professional athletes, goes beyond so-called social journalism. Is this a consequence of the new direction of the magazine?

EP: Actually, both reports are an expression of social journalism. "Reckless Amateurs" is about lesser forms of addiction that are experienced by more and more people, normal people. They are not as well-known as the "main" kinds of addiction, such as alcoholism or addiction to heroin, but they are still dangerous and, what's worse, they are on the rise. Another kind of addiction we have covered is online gambling addiction, which is something the Italian State has been exploiting to raise the funds for the reconstruction after the 2009 Abruzzo earthquake. One of the several reports we ran in the magazine has won the 2009 Claudio Accardi Award (an award for journalists who write about wars, integration and social marginalisation). The story by Ilaria Sesana is titled "Bouncing Across The Sea" and is about the over 5,000 refugees which were stuck in a sea strait between Greece and Italy in 2008.


PR: Is The photojournalism features by Polifemo are another strong suit of yours. What are the ingredients for an effective photo essay, excluding cameras, naturally?

EP: You need a good idea and a lot of time. A photographer who deals with social themes, much like a journalist working in the same sector, shall have a lot of time on his or her hands in order to be able to get to know a situation really well, by immersing themselves into it. This is how the photo essays about squatted houses, girls playing rugby, or the Bovisa neighbourhood in Milan were born. The December issue will contain a photo essay on Teatro degli Invisibili (Theatre of The Invisible) by Gin Angri. The latter, who is a real master of photojournalism, spent a lot of time with the actors who all suffer from mental illnesses. In the past he photographed the Bologna-based actors from Casa dei Risvegli (House of Awakenings), people who had just awaken from a coma and had taken up acting as a form of therapy.


PR: Is Civic engagement theatre actor Ulderico Pesce, economist Loretta Napoleoni, cartoonist Pat Carra, anti-mafia associations such as Addiopizzo, Ammazzateci tutti, Libera, Arci, Avviso Pubblico, Riferimenti and priest and activist Father Luigi Ciotti are the most famous of yours 'contributors'. Will they keep working with you in 2010? Will there be new collaborations?

EP: The people you named will keep on working with us in 2010. A new addition will be the 'Avvocati per niente" (Lawyers for free). As their name suggests, they are lawyers who work pro bono to help people in great difficulty in our society today.


PR: Is Andrea Rottini, Dario Paladini, Ilaria Sesana, art director Antonella Carnicelli and you can be considered as the soul of Terre di mezzo - street magazine. Where do your collaborators live, instead? In Italy or abroad?

EP: They all live in Italy. The reason is very simple: Terre Di Mezzo - Street Magazine is about Italy, what happens in our country. We have stable contributors from Padua, Genoa, Florence, Rome, Naples, Palermo and some who move from Milan to the place we will write about. Our aim is to write about what we come across and see form different points of view. This is how the magazine can grow richer.


PR: Is In my opinion, your careful choice of advertising is one of your assets. You have not included any questionable companies, even though letting those company place ads in your magazine would surely be profitable. Do you have to pay a high price for this choice?

EP: Quite: we cannot deny that it would be much easier to survive thanks to public funding or private money given by certain companies. That said, we, the people behind Terre (the Publisher, the Newspaper, the Fa' la cosa giusta Fair and the Association) are very much like a family: we help each other to get new projects started, because we know that what we invest now will become a return in the future. In the past, our street magazine Terre di Mezzo was the very reason we could start the Fa' la cosa giusta Fair. Last year the fair helped in the new launch of Terre di mezzo - street magazine. Regarding those who support us, today we have some Art Galleries, places where culture can circulate. I also want to mention some bookstores and newsstands in Milan, Genova, Morbegno, Roma and Nuoro, which sell our books and our magazine.


PR: Is Is there anything I didn't ask you about that you'd like to tell us?

EP: I'd like to talk about our "Pacchetto Sicurezza"(Security Package) and what it means. The first thing that needs to be said is that in the last months we've heard a lot of talk about 'cleaning up' and 'orderliness' in the name of security. This was all done to the detriment of immigrants, who were labelled as 'illegals', homeless people and graffiti artists, who make the grey streets of their towns more beautiful with their art, not the vandals that ruin walls and doors. In our opinion security comes across through better information. To make information available to the greatest possible number of people, for Christmas we created a special 'security package' made up of : Terre di mezzo - street magazine; the books 'Lavavetri' by Lorenzo Guadagnucci and "Dall'Etiopia a Roma" edited by Michele Colloca and Mussie Zerai Yosief; and a card about protecting the rights of the homeless to be sent to Minister Maroni. The latter is not a purely protest act meant to provoke, but a simple request to safeguard the rights of disadvantaged people.

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