A reporter in search of the Truth, the editorial by Franco Michienzi

Antonio Risolo was an outstanding Reporter – an enormous fan of boating and a journalist who would go in search of news. He leaves behind a legacy of truths that need to be told and values we have to promote

by Francesco Michienzi

“MY FATHER WAS A REPORTER USED TO WEARING OUT THE SOLES OF HIS SHOES looking for events to report and checking facts before they were published”. These words were spoken by Chiara Risolo in tribute to her father Antonio, who has died aged 74 – a journalist of great standing and with serious backbone, and an example and guide for his younger, less experienced colleagues. We were great friends, and we always will be, because esteem and friendship are not material things: they are values that never go away. I want to remember him here because his approach to writing and work was based on a collection of values that I have always shared, and which have underpinned every line I have ever written, and will ever write, as a professional journalist. Antonio began work as a journalist in 1974.

He began his career in 1970 as a correspondent for the news agency Ansa and Italian state broadcaster Rai, before going on to work as a reporter, department head, and editor-in-chief at the newspaper La Notte, and later the newspapers Italia Oggi and il Giornale. In 1979 he was asked to manage the Giornale di Merate, which made its debut on newsstands on 7 December that year. An inspiration for generations of reporters and a passionate sailor, he ran the ‘Giornale di bordo’ (‘on-board journal’) column for il Giornale and had recently launched his website, Gente di Mare. In 2011 the Italian marine industry association Confindustria Nautica and the Italian ministry for economic development awarded him the title of ‘Pioneer of the Nautical Industry’, a recognition he was extremely proud of.

Antonio Risolo
Antonio Risolo, in the middle, taught us to experience things in person, so we can tell the truth rather than simply passing on ready-made news. The launch of the Venice Boat Show was an excellent opportunity to assess an event without any filters.

I was thinking about him during the opening ceremony of the Venice Boat Show recently. While listening to the various speeches, I reminded myself – as Antonio said – that you have to go in search of news, you have to be there with no filters or intermediaries. I don’t know whether it counts as news, or simply something to remark upon, but listening to the bold attitude of the mayor of Venice, Luigi Brugnaro, surprised me greatly. “The sea economy is an opportunity for growth and a fresh start for the whole country. Although I am here in an institutional capacity, and we do not normally make statements of this type, I feel duty-bound to thank business owners like Alberto Galassi for believing so strongly in this event…”. Protocol probably forbids him from mentioning people with business connections. But this protocol highlighted the great distance between the inflexible nature of Italian institutions and the real country, and how a political system made up of career politicians is incapable of responding in a genuinely useful way to the needs of Italian society.

Unlike his predecessors, Brugnaro is a pragmatic fellow, a businessman who prioritises substance over appearance, and who understood that the Venetian Arsenal is a fantastic venue, ideal for showing the world the beauty of Italian manufacturing and Italian boats – a small jewel that can add value to everything. Of course, if I hadn’t been there in person and had been relying on newspaper summaries or press releases, I wouldn’t have grasped this dichotomy between the pomposity of the fanfares and the vision of the future proposed by a man like Brugnaro. He reminds me of the mayor of Genoa, Marco Bucci, someone else who looks after the interests of the businesses that create employment opportunities for his citizens – look no further than the extraordinary job he did with the reconstruction of the Morandi bridge.

This year’s Venice Boat Show marked a fresh start for a world that wants to race ahead and see lots of familiar faces, and this provoked a certain degree of euphoria. We need to avoid running the risk of turning this show into a replica of the Genoa Boat Show, which already exists and works very well. Due to Venice’s characteristics, this event should be a sort of boutique for the Italian shipbuilding industry, not a general show where everything is on display. Italy is the world’s biggest producer of yachts, and the Arsenal is the perfect place to give them the recognition they deserve. Beauty attracts beauty. Only by attending an event can you grab the details, and so turn them into a piece of news. To be a true reporter, you must always be searching for the truth. Fair winds, Antonio.

(A reporter in search of the Truth – Barchemagazine.com – July 2021)