Communication and Citizenship: Journalism and the Public Sphere in the New Media Age

By Peter Dahlgren; Colin Sparks | Go to book overview

Chapter 6

The public sphere and the use of news in a 'coalition' system of government

Paolo Mancini


SOME DEFINITIONS AND CONTEXTUAL DATA

In recent years some important changes have taken place in the Italian public sphere and, in particular, in political communication. I refer especially to the personalization and dramatization of politics and news, the use of advertising techniques in political communication, the progressive erosion of the 'protected' 1 circuits of communication and the functions of socialization which, up to now, have been the functions of the political party. These changes are mainly linked to the birth of commercial television and yet they have occurred in an overall picture which has remained essentially unchanged, where many aspects have even been considered reinforced. At this point I therefore felt it appropriate to deal with the problem from a different angle, one that could explain not so much the changes but rather the persistencies. And this essay is aimed at being the first step in that direction.

The sacred texts of journalism, I refer especially to the works by Lippman (1965) and the theories of Siebert, Peterson and Schramm (1963), have taken as models several specific public spheres (above all, the Anglo-Saxon countries) and mainly have defined the functions of journalistic information in relation and in opposition to the political systems in force in those countries. It is possible to define these political systems as 'majoritarian', in which a clear boundary line exists between the majority and the opposition and there is more than just the theoretical possibility that different political forces will alternate in the government. They are systems which may be called, for the sake of brevity, 'simple', based on bipartisanism with the presence, at the most,

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