The paper is first of all concerned on the analysis of the Italian press communication during the 2008 waste emergency in the city of Naples. Data are analysed using a combination of content analysis and textual data mining techniques to underline the main strategies used by seven of the Italian main newspapers (Repubblica, Corriere della Sera, La Stampa, Il Sole 24 Ore, Il Giornale, Il Mattino, La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno) to cover and frame the issue as long as to critically discuss the role of mass media in technoscientific controversies.

As a part of a still on-going 5-years research conducted on the social impact of the under-contruction co-incineration plant in the city of Turin, data from the mass media analysis are cross tabulated with those coming from a panel survey and some focus groups in order to give empirical evidences of the effects of the coverage on public opinion.

The work demonstrates a highly emphasized and dramatized communication has been set up by the Italian newspapers, which described the Naples’ waste emergency as a “new Chernobyl”, whose solely solution was the co-incineration, without giving enough space to alternative solutions. By making the local emergency a sort of Hirschman’s “catalytic event” nation-wide, mass media have strongly influenced public opinion in a short-term perspective, increasing the number of people agreeing with waste incineration. Otherwise, in a wider-time perspective, such an oversimplistic technoscientific communication only led to a waste of institutional trust, mainly in expertise and mass media.

Accordingly to the empirical evidences, considerations on what could be quality, honesty and beauty in technoscience communication, and, more in general, on the importance of journalism’s trustworthy as a (presently frail) trait d’union between lay public and expertise are made in the conclusions.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

If san gennaro is not enough
How the Italian press covered and framed the 2008 naples’ waste emergency

Giuseppe Tipaldo   Dipartimento di Scienze Sociali – Università di Torino

The paper is first of all concerned on the analysis of the Italian press communication during the 2008 waste emergency in the city of Naples. Data are analysed using a combination of content analysis and textual data mining techniques to underline the main strategies used by seven of the Italian main newspapers (Repubblica, Corriere della Sera, La Stampa, Il Sole 24 Ore, Il Giornale, Il Mattino, La Gazzetta del Mezzogiorno) to cover and frame the issue as long as to critically discuss the role of mass media in technoscientific controversies.

As a part of a still on-going 5-years research conducted on the social impact of the under-contruction co-incineration plant in the city of Turin, data from the mass media analysis are cross tabulated with those coming from a panel survey and some focus groups in order to give empirical evidences of the effects of the coverage on public opinion.

The work demonstrates a highly emphasized and dramatized communication has been set up by the Italian newspapers, which described the Naples’ waste emergency as a “new Chernobyl”, whose solely solution was the co-incineration, without giving enough space to alternative solutions. By making the local emergency a sort of Hirschman’s “catalytic event” nation-wide, mass media have strongly influenced public opinion in a short-term perspective, increasing the number of people agreeing with waste incineration. Otherwise, in a wider-time perspective, such an oversimplistic technoscientific communication only led to a waste of institutional trust, mainly in expertise and mass media.

Accordingly to the empirical evidences, considerations on what could be quality, honesty and beauty in technoscience communication, and, more in general, on the importance of journalism’s trustworthy as a (presently frail) trait d’union between lay public and expertise are made in the conclusions.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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