All Italian journalists are required to become members of the Ordine dei Giornalisti by passing a professional exam. This requirement, established by law in 1963, is unique to the Italian media landscape, and only exists in a small number of other countries. In principle, the Ordine dei Giornalisti is in charge of maintaining professional recruitment and ethical standards, but deep seeded political affiliations among journalists have limited its effectiveness in this latter regard. Instead, the Ordine dei Giornalisti has mainly focused on defending specific workplace privileges, like healthcare and pensions.
The Ordine dei Giornalisti classifies Italian journalists into three main categories: Professionisti (professional journalists), those who are regularly hired by a news outlet and who have passed the professional exam; Pubblicisti (freelance journalists), those who do not have a regular position within a news organisation; Praticanti (trainees), those who have a temporary position within a news outlet or are attending journalism school and yet to take the professional exam.
In addition to the Ordine dei Giornalisti, there are a number of other professional organisations for specific specialisations. For example, Associazione della Stampa Parlamentare (Association of Parliamentary Press) gathers political journalists covering parliamentary proceedings. This association regulates access to the seats of both Houses in the Italian Parliament, and therefore it has a direct impact on the relationship between news media and politicians.