Centre for Research in Communication and Culture


20 November 2020

Journalists’ Roles and the Ultra-Right: The Case of Italy

Presented By Professor Cinzia Padovani as part of the CRCC Seminar Series

About this event

In many parts of the world, journalists tend to see themselves as playing an important role for democracy. But what happens when they are faced with the question of whether to report, and how to report, on ultra-right, anti-democratic actors? The dilemma is evident: whereas on one side, journalists are supposed to report on what is relevant, on the other, by reporting on it, they risk amplifying its significance, giving attention to actors who, if successful, could disrupt democracies. The leads us to question the roles that journalists play when they find themselves in these predicaments.

In this presentation, Professor Cinzia Padovani develops a typology of journalist positions and applies this typology to a case study of journalist roles vis à vis the ultra-right in Italy. The empirical contribution, based upon data from semi-structured interviews with 23 professionals, highlights the emergence of various roles: from the ‘monitorial’, to the ‘public journalist’, to the ‘derisive’ role.

The study opens up an original arena of inquiry beyond the Italian case. Given the rise of the ultra-right in various contexts, the research will be of interest to academics and journalists alike, since the topic of when and how to cover ultra-right actors is a pressing, practical problem.

Cinzia Padovani is Associate Professor with Tenure in the Department of Radio Television and Digital Media, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, U.S.A. She holds an MA in Education (1989, University of L’Aquila Italy) and a PhD in Media Studies (1999, University of Colorado Boulder). Her research focuses on the relationship between media and power, and the role that media play in the formation of the public sphere in contemporary societies. In the earlier part of her career, Dr. Padovani has published extensively on issues related to public service media. Since the late 2000s, she has been researching less bureaucratized channels of communication and, in particular, ultra-right social movements and their use of the media. In her research, Cinzia draws on a range of qualitative approaches and methods, including historical and archival research, observations and in-depth interviews, and critical discourse analysis. She is the author of A Fatal Attraction: Public television and politics in Italy (Lanham, MD, Rowman & Littlefield, 2005; translated into Italian by Asterios Editore, Trieste); articles in professional journals, including The Journal of Language and PoliticsDiscourse & CommunicationJavnost/The PublicThe International Journal of Media and Cultural PoliticsThe International Journal of CommunicationTelevision and New Media, the leading Italian journal Problemi dell’Informazione and the Hungarian Médiakutató (with Michael Tracey and Katalin Lustyik); in addition to book chapters on topics such as social movement media and protest mobilization, media pluralism and media policies. Dr. Padovani is currently working on a book-length manuscript on contemporary ultra-right media and communication. 

Contact details

  • Questions about this event? Contact the CRCC Seminar Series organisers