Italian Mafia Expert Paolo Borrometi Wins Mackler Award for Courageous Journalism

  • By Amy Dunkin

Italian journalist Paolo Borrometi, an expert on the Sicilian mafia, will receive the 2019 Peter Mackler Award for Courageous and Ethical Journalism at a ceremony at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism on Sept. 25, 2019.

Named for a distinguished international journalist who worked for Agence France-Presse at the time of his death in June 2008, the Mackler award honors journalists from countries where independent media are under threat.

Borrometi’s coverage of the Sicilian mafia, especially the Syracuse and Ragusa branches, has made him the target of death threats and personal attacks, including an assault by two masked men in 2014 that permanently injured his shoulder. That same year, a fire started outside his family’s home in Modica caused him to flee to Rome to escape danger.

From there, he has continued to report on organized crime for the Italian broadcasting network TV2000; La Spia, the news website he created in 2013; and Articolo 21, an association he heads that supports freedom of expression. His latest investigations on mafia infiltration into Italy’s food processing sector – a criminal business worth billions of euros – have increased the threats to his safety. 

Borrometi has won numerous prizes in Italy, including the “Cavaliere dell’Ordine al merito della Repubblica italiana,” presented to him in 2015 by Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

We are thrilled to honor the work of Paolo Borrometi this year for his courage and dedication in exposing the devastating cost of the mafia’s criminal activities throughout Europe. This year’s award is an important reminder that even in developed and democratic countries like Italy, journalists such as Paolo can be forced to pay dearly with threats to their lives,” said Camille Mackler, the award manager.

In addition to the Newmark J-School at CUNY, other partners in the Mackler award are the Global Media Forum Training Group, the U.S. branch of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The award presentation will be followed by a panel discussion at the Newmark Journalism School about the challenges reporters like Borrometi face in pursuing their storiesTickets can be purchased here.

Over the past 10 years, the Peter Mackler Award has recognized journalists from Montenegro, Sri Lanka, Russia, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Sudan, Pakistan, Syria, Burundi and Mexico.

Family and friends of Mackler, who worked for United Press International and the Associated Press in addition to his 29 years at Agence France-Presse, founded the award in 2008 to continue his work after his passing. Mackler held posts around the globe, including in the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.

For more information about the Peter Mackler Award, contact Project Director Camille Mackler at 917-655-3548 or cmackler@pmaward.org.