Journalism in an age of populism and polarization: lesson from Italian debate in Italy

The study report “Journalism in an age of populism and polarization: lesson from Italian debate in Italy” , is now available online. The study was carried out by the LSE Arena in collaboration with the University Ca ‘Foscari of Venice and the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera.

This unique work, which lasted for years, involved the analysis of thousands of comments online, with a focus on articles with a migration theme (a sadly instrumentalization-fruitful field ).

The common aim was to develop strategies and good practices to overcome the sensationalist and polarized system in which the world of information seems to have narrowed by now, dynamics that affect democracy and  favor the so-called “populist parties”  and which in part are shaped  by the network architecture itself end by the tech-market:

“The ad-tech market is in turn powered by the algorithmic architecture of the internet and social media, which is skewed towards highly emotive, hyper-partisan material that appeals to existing confirmation biases and feeds more ‘shares’ and ‘likes’. The very architecture of the internet rewards news organizations and individual users who take ever more extreme and polarising positions 1- an algorithmic logic that in turn encourages the ‘populist’ politicians. They, in their turn, create content that mainstream media feels it is obliged to describe….and so the spiral spins on”

we read on the introductive pages of the report.

The main innovative proposal of this research project was to elaborate a new systems for measuring the success of an article: no longer based on likes and sharing but on the ability to be the driving force of a constructive rather than a toxic discourse or in the ability to enhance trust in the audience. In the article we find a detailed analysis of the political and social context and the changing dynamics of the media. Measurements and analysis are carried out in different aspects: content, style, topics of the contents and  data analysis.

A more shared responsibility of the people involved in the information, with respect to the contents disseminated online, can be a way to improve the quality of the news and the attitude of the readers and it is worth looking for increasingly effective strategies.  However, it is clear that to produce actual changes it is the architecture of the Internet itself that must be challenged , as Peter Pomerantsev, Director of LSE Arena Program states in the introductory pages:

“Breaking the polarisation spiral will require, first and foremost, greater public oversight of the algorithms and social media models that currently encourage extremism. Such regulation is already well on its way in Europe, and public pressureis growing in the US. It is important any regulation is not focused on censorship and‘take-downs’, but on encouraging accurate content, high editorial standards and providingpeople with a balanced diet of content rather than encasing them in ‘echo chambers’. Breaking the polarisation spiral will also mean reforming the ad-tech system, to create incentives for content that is not just ‘clickable’, but also fosters more thoughtful engagement. As this report shows, it is possible to consider ‘public service spirited’ metrics ofsuccess, but the environment has to radically change if media are to focus on content that fosters a politics that revolves less around populist personalities, disinformation and polarisation.”

here the full report. 

Spaces of inclusion

The Council of Europe publication entitled “Spaces of Inclusion – An explorative study on needs of refugees and migrants in the domain of media communication and on responses by community media” has been prepared by experts of the COMMIT Community Media Institute in Austria.

The role played by media in framing the public debate on migration, with often divisive narratives that focus on the threats that refugees and migrants can pose to the security, welfare and cultures of European societies, has attracted much attention in political and academic circles. Ongoing efforts to properly equip and prepare journalists for the challenging task of contextualised and evidence-based reporting on this complex topic are essential. It is equally vital, however, to ensure that sufficient opportunities are provided to migrants and refugees themselves to develop their independent voices and make them heard in public debate.

Based on individual interviews, the qualitative study explores the media habits and particular needs of refugees and migrants in the domain of media communication. Good practice examples show how community media can meet these needs by offering training and spaces for self-representation, and by offering points of entry into local networks. Community media and their bottom-up approach to content production also contribute to a multilingual media environment that reflects the diversity of European societies and includes marginalised communities as respected part of audiences.

The Ethical Journalism Network Migration Reporting Guidelines

The Ethical Journalism Network supports media in covering migration with more accuracy and humanity. The EJN’s migration reporting guidelines have formed the basis for EJN training of journalists around Europe over last few years.

https://ethicaljournalismnetwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Migration-infographic_update.pdf

The EJN is also developing a new media and migration toolkit in partnership with EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency.

Special Eurobarometer survey 469 on “Integration of immigrants in the EU”

The European Commission published on 13 April 2018 the results of the special Eurobarometer survey 469 on “Integration of immigrants in the European Union”

According to the results only a minority (37%) of Europeans think that they are well informed about immigration and integration related matters. Respondents also tend to overestimate the number of non-EU immigrants: in 19 out of the 28 Member States, the estimated proportion of immigrants in the population is at least twice the actual proportion and in some countries the ratio is much is higher.

The infographic can be dowloaded here

 

Digital makings of the city of refuge

The project “ Digital makings of the city of refuge” examines how urban communities – established and new – mobilise digitally to respond and manage change in the city, in urban neighbourhoods that receive large number of refugees and migrants. The study examines specific neighbourhoods of each city, which have directly, even if differently, experienced stresses or shocks through new arrivals: Victoria, Athens; Neukölln, Berlin; Harringay, London and Yen Long, Hong Kong and Little Somalia, Los Angeles.

The project is promoted by London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).