Monday, September 27, 2010

HALLIN & MANCINI, Ch. 5: The Mediterranean or the Polarized Pluralist Model

By Julia Gage

Map of the Mediterranean

In the fifth chapter of Comparing Media Systems, Hallin and Mancini commence their discussion of the The Mediterranean or the Polarized Pluralist Model by defining what constitutes the “Mediterranean” countries here placed in question. The countries that constitute Southern Europe in their discussion are Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and to a lesser extent, France. These countries have been grouped together under this model of polarized pluralism due to the sharp political cleavages that persisted as a result of their late development of such liberal systems as political democracy and capitalist industrialism. Polarized pluralism describes a model of liberal democracy wherein a vast array of distinct political parties exists, and inhabits an exceedingly wide spectrum of political stances. Hallin and Mancini argue that the late implementation of liberal ideologies has been instrumental in shaping the distinct media trends of these Mediterranean countries, due to the tradition of mass media as an arena for expressing political ideologies and enacting political negotiation and mobilization; the circulation of media in Southern Europe has customarily been dependent on subsidies from the state and other politically-inclined enterprises, thus limiting the forces of commercialization.

In the developmental stages of the media and journalism in Southern European countries, media and circulation of the press emerged as a venue for discourse among the literary and political worlds rather than for the commercial market. This implies that there was a very limited readership, namely, the highly educated upper echelons of society. Even today statistics of readership in Mediterranean countries reflect this convention; the male to female ratio of readers averages almost two to one, a shadow of the customary practice of excluding women from the political realm. Hallin and Mancini reference a clientelist system in regards to the circulation of information: it was regarded as a private resource, reserved for the elite to discuss outside of the public sector. In more general terms, clientelism is defined as a system of social organization wherein resources are controlled by few and distributed in return for support or services. The elite origins of journalism helped to firmly establish the tradition of the relatively high degree of political parallelism present in Southern European media such that most news organizations are directly linked with specific political parties.

An example of this is the primary paper of the Italian Communist Party titled L’Unita. It was started in 1924, and reached peak circulation in the 1960s. It has since shed its singular affiliation, but remains a markedly liberal institution.

A recognizable example of clientelism: serfdom.

The high level of political parallelism in Mediterranean countries, paired with the elite demographic of readers has had a lasting effect on the professionalization of journalism. Due to its close proximity to the political realm, journalism was approached as a “route of passage, not as a place of arrival” (qtd. in Hallin and Mancini 110), as many journalists would aspire to move on to careers as politicians. Furthermore, periodic interruptions of repressive state intervention stunted the growth of journalism, and the generally low level of journalistic autonomy limited the extent to which journalism could branch out beyond the bounds of bargaining among political elites—that is, there came no codification of common ethical standards among journalists to unite them or affirm any distinct professional status. This lack of any regulatory body further reflects a lack of ethical consensus among journalists as well as the limited recognition of journalism as a formal occupation in the wider population.

In 1977 Italian journalist, Gianpaolo Pansa coined the term “giornalista dimezzato” meaning “the journalist cut in half” to illustrate how the Italian journalist “belonged only half to himself and the other half belonged to powers outside journalism: media owners, financial backers, and politicians” (Hallin and Mancini 113).

Systems of instrumentalization, or practices that place pressure on audience to achieve either commercial or political end (product placement, editorial content, etc.), have thrived in Mediterranean media because journalists are accustomed to limited professional autonomy. A study conducted by Donsbach and Patterson in 1992 found that 27% of Italian journalists were inclined to report that pressures from senior editors or management were important to their work, as compared to much more diminutive percentages in northern European countries like Britain and Germany. Italian journalists were also more likely to report that their work was edited in the newsroom to accommodate political demands (Hallin and Mancini 118). In the early part of the twentieth century in Italy major companies began circulating national newspapers as a means of intervening in the political realm, notably two steel companies, Ilva and Perrone; even though there was little or no profit to be made from these papers, they were useful in rallying for favorable political influence.

In Greece the same practice of pressuring politicians is customary, as characterized by Stylianos Papathanassopoulos, “Give me a ministry or I will start a newspaper!” (qtd. in Hallin and Mancini 114).

Historically, the state has played a great role in the media of Southern Europe, and therefore has great power to intervene, however the effectiveness of such interventions have often been compromised by lack of resources or political consensus. Censorship by the state lingers even in the democratic governments of today. State ownership of media enterprise is also a concept of Mediterranean countries both in broadcasting and the press. The Radio-Television-Francaise under Charles de Gaulle is exemplary of the Government Model of broadcast organization, in which the government assumes direct control over public broadcasting. In such a system, politics takes precedence over broadcasting, a marked symptom of a party-politicized system. Until 1964 all top personnel of the R.T.F. were appointed directly of the French Minister of Information. To this day, Italy and France maintain the highest levels of subsidies to the press in Europe, but some funds are directed toward marginal papers to protect political diversity.

Charles de Gaulle

A recent phenomenon in the press of Mediterranean countries is news coverage of political scandals—a practice formerly inaccessible to journalists due to the press industry’s heavy reliance on funding from the government. It was for this reason that sensationalist media never blossomed in Southern Europe as in countries like Britain. The 1980s and 1990s have seen a shift away from the traditional closeness of the press and the state in polarized pluralist countries as journalists increasingly frame themselves as “speaking for an outraged public against the corrupt political elite,” (Hallin and Mancini 124). As in other countries, the rise of a market-based media can be held accountable at the root of this shift. However, the growing rift between the media and the state has seen some unfavorable consequences such as “savage deregulation” of the media, a term used by Tarquina to describe the Portuguese media policy in the 1980s and 1990s. Savage deregulation describes a media policy in which commercial broadcasting carries on unbridled without a framework for protecting public broadcasting in the service of the general public. The burgeoning of liberalism in Southern Europe, found Mediterranean countries (excluding France) generally ill-equipped to reckon with sudden political changes due to lingering influences of the Church, limited commercialism, and a weak middle class. Perhaps it is due to the historical closeness of state and press that the sudden deregulation of public broadcasting created more problems in Southern Europe than in Northern Europe.

Branding and Commercialism

Sensationalist News

Sunday, September 26, 2010

I am Europe Chilly Gonzalez, 2010

I’m a dog shaped ashtray

I’m a shrugging moustache wearing a speedo tuxedo

I’m a movie with no plot

Written in the back seat of a piss powered taxi

I’m an imperial armpit, sweating Chianti

I’m a toilet with no seat, flushing tradition down

I'm socialist lingerie, I'm diplomatic techno

I'm gay pastry and racist cappuccino

I’m an army on holiday in a guillotine museum

I’m a painting made of hair,

on a nudist beach eating McDonald's

I’m a novel far too long, I’m a sentimental song

I’m a yellow tooth waltzing with wrap around shades on

Who am I?

I am Europe

France in the E.U.

The European Union
Established in 1993
27 member states
16 member states participate in the Euro
500 million citizens
30% of Gross World Product

The EU began as an alliance at the Schuman Treaty of 1950, a coal and steel trade agreement with Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands & West Germany.

In 1957, the same core countries signed the Treaty of Rome which continued to be revised until the official EU formation in 1993. We now have an “enlarged Europe” including Eastern countries.

Blue indicates the member states that use the Euro currency.

The UK retains their original currency. Non-member states Norway, Switzerland and Lichtenstein participate only in “single market” for leveling of prices. Iceland participates in single market but has now requested to join.

Belgian EU President Herman Von Ronpuy was elected to a 2 1/2 year term in 2009.

Within the EU are the following agencies
The European Parliament: works to pass legislation
The European Council: advises Parliament and controls the “Common Foreign and Security Policy”
The European Commission: initiates the legislation
The European Court of Justice: upholds the legislation

The “European Commission” enforces laws but it is up to each country to regulate media. France has the Conseil supĂ©rieur de l’audiovisuel.

Hallin & Mancini's Comparing Media Systems looks at Europe in the 3 regions below:

The study examines

-markets in relation to economies

-political parties in relation to press

-professionalism of media

Political parallelism: how much the media advocate parties and support the ruling power

External pluralism: variety in media with different political views

Governance: political party control of media

Role of the state: variation in funding, regulation, intervention

Professionalization: media as accurate, reliable and serving as fair social judgment

Le Journal du Dimanche is a Sunday only French paper

Burton, Cathie & Drake, Alan (2004). The European Media Landscape in Hitting the Headlines in Europe.

The European news system began with Roman posting of flyers and the first newspaper theActaDiurna, meaning “daily acts.” The first newsprint was in Nuremberg Germany in 1457, followed by Britain’s paper The Weekly News in 1622. Contemporary Europe now has both nation and language specific news. There is 54% fluency in English, with Russian being the most spoken native and second language in Europe at 288 million speakers.

European News Media

The Financial Times
Since 1888, British pink paper the supplies facts and stories about the economic climate. It is known for remaining fairly neutral with some British Labour party support.

The International Herald Tribune
Based in Paris, it works in relationship to it’s owner the New York Times.

The Economist
A Scottish founded free market magazine published in 6 different country editions. It is known for being on the right, conservative side but is at times unpredictably radical. Importantly all the stories are anonymously.

Le Monde
The newspaper has a 2 million daily readership, larger than the New York Times. It is available in 120 countries in French.

European News Agencies

Reuters started in Britain by carrier pigeons, then underground cables. It is now the most subscribed news source for European newspapers.

Agence France Press
16 Europeans offices with 2,000 writers. Circulates news in Europe in 7 languages

Associated Press
American based with about 250 world wide offices

Itar Tass
The former Soviet News agency now serving Russia and Eastern Europe

European News Channels

BBC World
While BBC in England is regulated public television, BBC World has advertising.

The European office is located in London. The French correspondant is AUP Professor Jim Bitterman.

Deutsche Welle
World news in German and English with some Spanish and Arabic languages for specific markets.

Based in Lyon France, 7 language broadcast in voiceover only, currently the global leader


A combined French-German station that also reaches Austria, Belgium and Switzerland.

CNBC Europe
American NBC dependent news source targeting banks and hotels

Not mentioned in the text but essential to French media are France 24, providing English content, Euronews and the 24 hour news network, BFM.

Main European Media Centers
Brussels: Global politics happens here. Headquarters for the EU and NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and near the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
London: Leader in global news and center for the Foreign Press Association.
Paris: Claims largest number of foreign correspondents
Strasbourg: The European Parliament, the legislative branch of the EU, meets here and there are many human rights agencies and other offices based here.
Geneva: Home to the United Nations, World Trade Organization and Red Cross