Development Cooperation Handbook/The video resources linked to this handbook/The Documentary Story/Leaving the RAI team alone to plan according to their objectives


Leaving the RAI team alone to plan according to their objectives

I wanted to manage the job partnership with RAI in such a way that we would have given reciprocal added value to each other professionalism and vocation. In many senses we were just doing that. But tensions kept on increasing as the time was passing. We, the development cooperation workers, were feeling as the RAI journalist were going back in the usual easy communication stereotypes. I constantly tried to recall their attention to the MDG programme. But they constantly insisted that they had to do “side work” to collect more appealing images so that they could talk also of the MDGs. I was unconvinced of this double standard. I thought that we could raise the interest on the main story and not to differentiate between the “had to communicate content” and the “easier to communicate exterior”. At time they were acting as they were after something altogether different; and they than were bearing with us on the main programme topic just to have the possibility of following their plans. They sometimes justified themselves as they were asked to do so by RAI, which wanted to maximize the alignment to the existing news formats. They told us that personally they were really interested to the MDG programme, but could not prioritize it because they had to prioritize their company priorities. I remained unconvinced on the justifications for such a double standard. Anyway the results were not showing that they were in any way innovative. The TG7 on Syria and the following one on Lebanon had disappointed us. They repeated the usual observations that are commonly heard in television. About the MDGs, very little mention. Almost unnoticeable.

Another cause for tension was the fact they wanted to be the ones who have to be looked after, as a sort of “prima donna-s” of the show. Instead of thinking that we are two professional team cutting our way thought difficulties and unexpected events, so that we had to join efforts to solve problems, they sometime pretended that we solve the problems for them. It was true that we were putting he money for logistics. And it was true that we had more experience in those countries. But we never said we would have attended at them. The spirit was of a common effort, not at someone looking after the needs of the others. Our initial hospitality had become first taken for granted, and then expected. Anyway there were so clumsy in managing their logistics that it was easier for us to nurse them then having to fix their the troubles they created to themselves, and so to us as well.

Throughout the project, even in the conflictual episodes, I never thought that they were bad guys or they were bad intentions. I remained convinced that they are relatively better guys of a deeply sick professional environment of irresponsible superficial journalism, that anyway had its toll on their humanity. And as I was interested to cover this news-making environment and I was getting living samples of that in my camera, I went on bearing with the nuisances of such prima donna news makers. I simply kept on trying to educate them as much as possible, get their TV output as good as possible, and then re-edit it all my way.

In any case the growing tension between the “two levels” was becoming a less friendly job sharing between the two teams. So I tried to think at ways to defuse it. And return to a more constructive synergy. We had covered two main locations: Middle East and Africa. We had two more to do: India and South America. I decided to let Francesco to take full responsibility for India. I would have given him my team and left him without me. I wanted to see his fully independent approach. I only recommended him to be fair to the project objectives, which by now he knew well enough. And to keep the responsibility that we were being paid with public money destined to fight world poverty and marginalization. India was also the location of our best partner, the Kautilya Society, and so I was sure that their logistic and support management would have been of high standard even without me. I would have arrived to India later on, to build on his work.

In the meanwhile I would have gone to South America. A place where we did not have partner. And where I had never been before. I wanted to understand what can we cover over there. And so I decided to go there alone and get the things organized, while Franco and Francesco were working their way through India.

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