[Image from the tweet announcing the hunger strike
This post is in English because I think the case in discussion is “a first” at international level. The case and most of the links, although, will point to material in Italian.
HUNGER STRIKE ON SOCIAL MEDIA – DAY 1 (nov 13th)
Paola Caruso declares to be a Corriere della Sera (Top Italian Newspaper) seven year “temp” (temporary collaborator, in Italian “precario” “collaboratore”). She is an active user of Social Media with an average to heavy user profile (a few hundreds friends, various accounts, barcamps and so on…). Yesterday (saturday november 14th) she claimed on a Tumbr with her name to have started a Hunger and Thirst strike generating instantaneous and highly worried reactions among her friends who convinced her to drink some water before 24 hours had passed. On sunday morning she declares to be still on hunger strike, although no objectives of her protest have been set. The discussion has flooded the italian blogosphere and social networks wit the tags #iosonopaola (I am Paola) #paolaprecaria (Paola “temp”) #stopcorsera4paola (Boycott Corriere dellaSera for Paola). Italian bloggers took part in the protest by suspending their site redirecting to her tumblr, rather than hosting banners to support her. Some are at Paola’s apartment liveblogging as I am writing. Aggregators have opened a special section, the news are slowly picking up the case. I don’t recall similar cases worldwide, if you do please add in the comments.
HUNGER STRIKE ON SOCIAL MEDIA – DAY 2 (nov 14th)
No sign of reaction from the italian newspaper after 36 hours, highly emotional debate among the bloggers, at first analysis it appears as a very unprepared and unorganized initiative. I’ll update the post in case of relevant news.
Update 18:15 hrs The italian Journalist ha announced on her tumblr that she had a cup of cofee but she keeps going on wit the hunger strike and that she has been in touch with her newspaper. She posted another picture of her on the scale, weighing almost a Kg less:find it here. The reason of the strike would be the fact that a young journalist, just graduated from journalist school ( A rookie ” – “un pivello” – as Caruso defined him) would have gotten a contact she was hoping to have. The thing is all over the italian blogosphere and statusphere which lack of trending monitoring tools. On Google, for her name there’s a significant “competition” between her and a showglirl bringing the same name. Some minor mainstream media bloggers picked up the news while almost 200 blogs are discussing the matter, some very critically on Caruso’s behaviour now.
Update 21:45 hrs News don’t pick up the hunger strike, senior bloggers share strong ugly doubts on Caruso’s behaviour. The most relevant news blog (Il Post) is beginning to share doubts on the whole hunger strike thing, quoting a news agency (ANSA) declaration (also appeared on the newspaper facebook page) of Corriere della Sera chief editor Ferruccio De Bortoli who said: to know nothing of any request from Caruso, otherwise he would have had a meeting with her and inviting her to get back to a reasonable attitude and offering dialogue. De Bortoli also denies the hiring of a young journalist, stating he had a “temp” contract as well. The thing starts to look grotesque: the bloggers are on fire, nobody else takes the thing into consideration. The official news system is ignoring the thing, the involved newspaper minimizes. The italian blogosphere emotivity has generated facebook pages, campaigns, Twibbons and any other social campaign tool, but all this call to action has no answer outside friendfeed and some inner blog circle. It’s sunday night: tomorrow morning we’ll see how the news system will react. Meanwhile a lot of exposure is drawn on a single person.
Update 22:30 hrs Caruso writes on her blog an open letter to Ferruccio De Bortoli that the info she has regarding the contract of the new hired are different: she claims (and later says again) that since this (yet unnamed) guy would have had access to a-so-called “desk” contract he has to have been hired (“assunto”), according to internal agreements. The point is that the Corriere della Sera couldn’t “hire” according to another union crisis agreement called “stato di crisi”. (“Forse mi sono sbagliata sul tipo di contratto della new-entry, mi fa piacere sapere che i nuovi co.co.co. abbiamo accesso al desk. A me non risulta.“). She also says that she actually sent an email to the editor in chief (“In realtà le avevo scritto una mail per avvertirla della mia forma di protesta, ma capisco che può esserle sfuggita.“). Gossip says the editorial board of Corriere della Sera (“comitato di redazione”) has spent the sunday in a meeting and new developments will emerge during the week.
[Clearly this is turning into a labor-legal issue I’m not the right person to talk about as I’m not in the know of too many technical aspects. My interest was in putting on the record a “social media empowered” hunger strike, and the communication analysis regarding it: I will update only on this matter from now on.]
HUNGER STRIKE ON SOCIAL MEDIA – DAY 3 (nov 15th)
Caruso posted an update showing she lost 1.7 kilos. The bloggers support is wide and still intense, although some critics to the behaviour get more strong, turning into flames. Caruso in two days gained some 400 followers on Twitter and she keeps answering to thousands of posts and comments. Google blog search now spits out 617 posts. Google News always gives back less than 10 minor news sites talking bout the hunger strike, the only one with a minimum fame is Affari Italiani. The news system is deliberately ignoring Caruso’s hunger strike or not thinking it’s news, at this point we can say for sure.
A certain degree of mastery of social media and blog dynamics has to be credited to Caruso, she definitely showed she can touch the right strings in posing as a weak girl, streaming her scale’s pics showing daily her weight loss and sharing tears and a certain sense of final choice (she keeps repeating she will never work again in a newspaper) that make her an almost perfect anti-hero.
HUNGER STRIKE ON SOCIAL MEDIA – DAY 4 (nov 16th)
No sign of life from the official press, which, at this point, is deliberately (and probably wisely) denying the thing. The bloggers start continuos flames whether it was a good idea or just a person try to gain visibility without a cause or simply giving in to a moment of weakness.
HUNGER STRIKE ON SOCIAL MEDIA – DAY 5 (nov 17th)
Caruso announces to suspend the hunger strike. The day after she will meet the chief editor of Corriere della Sera Ferruccio De Bortoli, who will claim to have answered to all the emails and who reassured Caruso that “she can keep her job”. A happy ending which didn’t change Caruso’s position (for as much as is given to know), didn’t force the Corriere della Sera to any change of position and had no impact whatsoever in public opinion except for the bloggers continuos flames, still lasting, as a demonstration that probably they didn’t pick the right battle. It’s true that the debate has been brought to the bloggers attention, though, but in such a manner that kept it inside the italian blogosphere’s inner circle, with no spread through social networks or mainstream press, therefore making it relevant only to a minority of people, who will hardly make any effect or a point in the italian labor law debate.
The only significant effect appears to be the demonstration that a highly emotional/political happening as a hunger strike can have a great potential if amplified through Social Media, given that it had solid grounds in order to break into the news system. In a word: don’t try this at home.