“IT’S THE AGENCY, BEAUTY!”, EXPLORING THE SOURCES OF THE NEWS BY STEFANO POLLI AND CESARE PROTETTI

How are the news born? What are the main news “factories”? What is the system of screening and control of the information (and of the hoaxes) that feed the media circuit? These questions and many others are answered by Stefano Polli, deputy director of Ansa and Cesare Protetti, long-time agency journalist, expert in digital content, in their recently published manual (Istimedia edizioni, pp. 414, euro 20) ” It’s the agency, baby! History, theory and techniques of agency journalism “, now in its second edition with extensive updates and remakes and a focus on photography and photo agencies by Vanessa Quinto.

The first edition of this text, adopted by some schools of journalism, dates back to 2007: 14 years is an eternity and not only for the world of agencies (some were born, others died, others merged), but for the he entire world of information that today has a new playing field “delimited – as Giulio Anselmi writes in the preface – by technology giants such as Apple, Samsung or Huawei and by new digital platforms such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, Instagram”.

Today more than ever, reliability is played by the great challenge of journalism and agency journalism in particular, which, as always, must reach users quickly with accurate, impartial and verified information. “The survival of information agencies, that is the need to use them as secure basic organs – wrote Sergio Lepri – depends on the extent to which their mediation means not only the management of information circulating outside the Net and within the Net, but also verification and control of that information. A mediation that is above all mediation of truth; and if the word “truth” is a little scary, let’s say: quality mediation “.

“Stefano Polli and Cesare Protettì tell in this book – wrote Giulio Anselmi in the preface – the world of information agencies. And they do it on several levels: the journalistic profession, history, technological evolution, from pigeons to twitter, to the point of creating a sort of encyclopedia of the subject, of yesterday, today and tomorrow. But completeness does not take away warmth and passion from the story ”.
From the carrier pigeon to the Internet, the journey was long, not only on a technological level. In Italy, in particular, the panorama of national agencies, already rich compared to other countries, has been further enriched with the entry into the field of new players such as “LaPresse”, “Agenzia Nova” and “Vista”. Some agencies have disappeared, such as “Il Velino”; others have merged, such as Asca and TmNews to give life to Askanews. Some, starting with Nova and Askanews, have opened a window on the Balkan countries and on China and emerging countries.

The book, easy to read, is full of anecdotes on scoops made, missed, disputed, delayed, censored and…. stolen; stories of journalists (the “information tarantolates”, the “news stonecutters”) who have captured, before others, moments that have made history (the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the resignation of Pope Ratzinger …). There is no shortage of interviews: Lucia Annunziata, Pio Mastrobuoni, Luigi Contu (from Ansa to Repubblica and back, as director). There is a rich index of names: journalists, editors, information scholars. Also very useful are the manuals with the rules of writing and pronunciation that are found in the fundamental and always current chapter on “Sources, technique and language”.