This news is simple, extraordinary and exciting: We are again the owners of il manifesto.
Moreover, at the end of last April, when we celebrated our 45 years in business, we created a narrative supplement on the history of the newspaper: “Masters of space.” Readers have shared many of its articles, and some asked what this strange title meant. The answer was and is: We are masters of the space that belongs to us.
And now we really are: proudly — shared by the entire editorial staff — I can announce that the cooperative of il manifesto once again became the 100 percent owner of the newspaper.
I cannot hide the fact that we attend this small “family” event tired and exhausted. Because, as those who follow us know well, the path was hard and full of obstacles, exhausting, at times tinged by a strong pessimism.
Every day we were chased by the sword of Damocles, which in legend hung by a horse hair, and in our reality represented the threat of being struck and sold to the highest bidder. It’s the end. It is the end.
Yes, it’s really the end. The end of the administrative compulsory liquidation. Yes, it’s the end of the little hell in which we have lived these past three and a half years. And it is the beginning of a new history for il manifesto.
The most difficult period we went through was during the internal tear, when the majority of the editorial staff opted to continue to fight so that the newspaper was not sold without even trying to look for an alternative.
We kept the bar straight, convinced that we wanted to provide a future to an adventure that began in 1971.
I don’t hide the fact that for me and the editorial staff, we experienced that choice in a traumatic way, to the point that we considered giving up the helm and letting the manifesto boat crash against the rocks. Yet, looking back now, with a cold head, in those dramatic days we found the strength to go on.
Since then began the new long march of the cooperative, which had a dual purpose: to save the newspaper from the compulsory liquidation and subsequently to buy it. The two goals were achieved. To reach the goal, we have kept the newspaper alive and in good health and, at the same time, we started a fundraising campaign.
Now we can look ahead with optimism, though moderate.
When building an enterprise, the driving factors can be many and varied. In our case, the most important ones were heart and commitment.
The former, because we love our newspaper: Without this feeling, very strong despite the many crises, both personal and collective, we would not have made it. And we have always associated this feeling and commitment to the strength of the legacy of the founders, Luigi Pintor and Rossana Rossanda.
The latter was the collective commitment: From the oldest to the youngest, everyone has accepted the almost impossible challenge, knowing that without hard work, heads down, we could not make it.
I am grateful to everyone from co-director Tommaso Di Francesco to the Board of Directors, the entire editorial team, the printing service and administrative teams. Without this crew, motivated and passionate, it would have been a futile battle.
But there is another factor, no less than the others, which was fundamental: your support.
After a life spent in this newsroom, I realized that the readers of il manifesto are of another species. They’re rare. Because they read, because they criticize, because they propose ideas and because even in the most difficult times, they’ve never left us. And they deserve our thanks and our affection for supporting us, for making economic sacrifices, which are not negligible to those who live off wages and pensions.
And here we come to the last factor: money. As well explained in the articles by Matteo Bartocci and Benedetto Vecchi. We became improvised entrepreneurs ourselves, staying true to form for 45 years to what is a happy Italian anomaly: a national newspaper self-managed by a pure, transparent cooperative.
Now that we are once again masters of our work, we can design the future with greater confidence. And we have so many ideas that we want to achieve by next fall. But owning the newspaper does not solve the financial challenges and, above all, is not a barrier against the decline in the number of copies sold.
We would be false and hypocritical if we say that all is well. Because it is not so: The crisis of the newspaper industry is acute, and it will become increasingly worse. It’s an industry-wide problem. The newsstand suffers and digital revenue, although growing, cannot revive the industry.
We at il manifesto have a Franciscan website, without a euro of advertising, a choice that we pay for, with free reading of many articles online, exposed to the “piracy” of the paper journal.
It is not possible to stop the crisis of printed newspapers, but we can contain it. Provided we are aware of the fact that reading a newspaper like il manifesto is primarily an action, a political choice, and that the reading of a newspaper is the only way to avoid getting sucked in by the trends on social networks, certainly helpful while at the same time fake because they replace real participation with likes and shares.
One thing is now clear, as many scholars say: Social networks are changing the very concept of democracy. And it is on this front line of politics and information that we are called to work at every day at our newspaper and in our country, in an increasing difficulty scenario for the left that needs to find reasons for a strong political unitary and plural presence, both in Italy and abroad.
To give a future to the history and culture that we feel we represent, we need all of you. For this, we will relaunch a strong subscriptions campaign (the primary life insurance of this cooperative) and in return we will give you the best of our work.
Of course, aside from just work, we want to fully enjoy the party, the one we are going to organize for the autumn relaunch. A big party to toast the new company and a renewed newspaper.
We would like Luciana Castellina and Valentino Parlato to join us in the front row to raise the cup.
Dear readers, you are all invited. You will be the guests of honor.
Norma Rangeri is the editor of il manifesto.