Local Media for Democracy — country focus: Italy

Andrea Mangani – University of Pisa


In Italy, there is no explicit debate focused specifically on local news deserts. There is a broader discussion concerning the state and the viability of local media outlets, but terms such as “desertification” or similar terminology are not commonly used in this context. The primary concern lies not in the sheer number of media outlets, but rather in their financial sustainability.

Policymakers and industry professionals recognise the importance of sustaining local media for the sake of democracy and pluralism. The debate, however, is sometimes blurred since Italian laws and regulations have rarely provided explicit and general definitions of “local media”. The reason being that Italian local media can be municipal, provincial, regional or multi-regional media outlets.

Generally, experts describe the conditions of local media in Italy as “critical.” Local media outlets fiercely compete for a significantly declining source of revenue. On the one hand, citizens traditionally show a relatively low willingness to pay for information. On the other, the majority of media activities have shifted online, where advertising serves as the primary source of revenue.[1] Consequently, fierce competition arises to secure a share of advertising investments crucial for the survival of media outlets.[2] Moreover, with most news companies transitioning to online platforms, the competition now extends to an inter-industry level.[3] For example, the websites of local newspaper publishers compete with those of local broadcasting companies.

Community media are probably better defined in laws and regulations than local media,[4] since the local or ultra local dimension of community media is quite established in both academic debates and institutional contexts. In addition, a clear definition of community media serves to project the public support of these outlets. Based on interviews with media experts, Italian community media have not developed in the last two decades. While a few successful experiences can be observed, they appear to be isolated cases amidst a sea of unsuccessful ventures.

[1] AgCom, ‘Indagine conoscitiva sull’informazione locale’, 2018. https://www.agcom.it/indagine-conoscitiva-su-informazione-locale-.

[2] R. Carlini, M. Trevisan, E. Brogi, ‘Monitoring Media Pluralism In The Digital Era. Application Of The Media Pluralism Monitor In The European Union, Albania, Montenegro, Republic Of North Macedonia, Serbia & Turkey In The Year 2022. Country report: Italy’, Centre for Media Pluralism and Freedom, European University Institute, 2023. https://cmpf.eui.eu/media-pluralism-monitor-2023/.

[3] Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni (2021). Sistema dell’informazione: documento conclusivo della prima fase di consultazione pubblica. https://www.agcom.it/osservatorio-sul-giornalismo-iii-edizione.

[4] Art. 2, legislative decree n.117/2005.

Main findings

Granularity of infrastructure of local media – Medium risk (46%)

The rationalisation of broadcasting services, including television and radio, has tended to favour larger and more established media companies. This process complicates the survival of small media outlets and raises concerns about certain areas being left without sufficient media coverage. However, the presence and offer of local media services varies greatly across both the national territory and different media formats.[1]

In general, urban areas have a wide range of media outlets available to residents, including newspapers, TV and radio stations, and community media in larger towns. However, the situation varies significantly, particularly regarding community media, which often face challenges in achieving economic and financial stability. Furthermore, the official data prevent a clear assessment of the viability conditions that these media face. In the case of online newspapers, there is an overabundance of information outlets, primarily concentrated in urban areas. This overabundance poses a risk of leaving rural areas without adequate news coverage and access to information. In certain regions like Trentino Alto Adige, rural areas are adequately served by local media outlets. However, in other areas such as Calabria, the number and reach of local media outlets are much more limited, leading to a critical situation.[2]

Suburban areas generally receive coverage from television and radio broadcasting outlets, as well as online media, due to the high internet penetration in the outskirts of towns and cities. However, the distribution of print press is diminishing, which is a trend not limited to suburban areas but also observed in the centres of towns and cities.[3]

The count of local media journalists has declined by approximately 50% since 2008/2009, following the global economic and financial crisis.[4] Furthermore, there is a noticeable reduction in the presence of journalists in rural and small urban areas. Conversely, there has likely been an increase in the number of freelance or unregistered journalists operating in the field.

RAI (Radiotelevisione Italiana), the Italian PSM, operates terrestrial and subscription television channels as well as radio stations, and is legally mandated to ensure radio and television broadcasting across the entire country, including all regions and autonomous provinces such as Trento and Bolzano. In line with this, RAI has established 21 regional offices. However, it has been observed that the editorial content of RAI’s regional information provision tends to be centred around the respective regional “capital” city.[5] As a result, other provinces within the regions may not receive adequate coverage in terms of news and information.

The main Italian news agency, ANSA, also has considerable distribution across the national territory.[6] They operate 22 regional offices (Italy having 20 regions), although there is a lack of information regarding specific changes in the number of journalists within each ANSA regional branch.

[1] A. Mangani and B. Pacini, ‘Technological transition and market structure: The switchoff and local television in Italy’, Journal of Digital & Media Policy, 13 (2), pp. p. 297 – 316, 2022. https://intellectdiscover.com/content/journals/10.1386/jdmp_00067_1; A. Mangani, ‘Come sta l’informazione locale?: le testate locali italiane dopo vent’anni di rivoluzione digitale’, Economia e società regionale, v. 1, 2022 ,https://www.torrossa.com/it/resources/an/5314580 .

[2] Anonymous sources, online interviews between May and September 2023.

[3] Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni, ‘Sistema dell’informazione: documento conclusivo della prima fase di consultazione pubblica’, 2021 https://www.agcom.it/osservatorio-sul-giornalismo-iii-edizione .

[4] Anonymous sources, online interviews between May and September 2023.

[5] Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni, ‘L’informazione locale in Italia: il ruolo del servizio pubblico’, 2021: https://www.agcom.it/documentazione/documento?p_p_auth=fLw7zRht&p_p_id=101_INSTANCE_FnOw5lVOIXoE&p_p_lifecycle=0&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_count=1&_101_INSTANCE_FnOw5lVOIXoE_struts_action=%2Fasset_publisher%2Fview_content&_101_INSTANCE_FnOw5lVOIXoE_assetEntryId=8188041&_101_INSTANCE_FnOw5lVOIXoE_type=document-

[6] https://www.ansa.it/ .

Market and reach – Medium risk (59%)

The number of local newspapers, both in print and online formats, has increased since the beginning of the century. On the other hand, there has been a steady decline in the number of kiosks: today, 25% of municipalities do not have a kiosk, and 30% have only one.[1] In the case of online media, the distribution of media products depends on the internet penetration in different areas. The number of local TVs and radio stations has declined. Following the switch off period between 2008 and 2012, the allocation of private and public resources has favoured more structured and larger companies to streamline the previously fragmented and dispersed local television services.[2]

Precise and reliable data regarding market shares are currently unavailable. In the case of print newspapers, most towns in Italy have one or two dominant newspapers, indicating a relatively high level of concentration. However, these oligopolistic players face competition from online information platforms. The television and radio broadcasting markets exhibit a similar level of concentration, but their significance as news providers is steadily diminishing as younger generations increasingly turn to online sources for information.[3]

There exists notable diversity within various media sectors in terms of demand. Regarding TV and radio services, the audience primarily comprises individuals born before 1970. Younger generations, though more inclined to invest in content, have gravitated away from conventional and local broadcasting platforms. In the case of the local press, recent estimates reveal a slight increase in the willingness to pay compared to previous years, but the reach of local press (both print and online) has experienced a significant decline in recent years.[4]

As a consequence, the revenues of local media have been experiencing a downward trend (high risk). While the situation remains heterogeneous across the industry, few local media outlets have witnessed a recent increase in revenues.[5] In the local print and online press markets, the proliferation of new outlets has led to a reduction in advertising revenues for each individual outlet. On the other hand, advertising revenues in the TV and radio broadcasting sector have remained relatively stable between 2018 and 2022. In the advertising market, local media outlets face competition from platforms such as Google, Facebook, and Instagram, which offer advantageous conditions for advertisers, including the ability to reach their target audience and lower prices (high risk).[6]

The support for local media can come from either the central state or the regional governments since each region has the autonomy to establish specific forms of support. In recent years, numerous Italian regions have provided various forms of support to local media, with the level of support remaining relatively consistent over time (low risk). Nevertheless, this support varies significantly across regions.[7]

In addition, the process to obtain public support involves high bureaucratic costs, appeals, complaints, and other factors that introduce uncertainty into the support system. This means that some media outlets, particularly those with limited staff, choose not to apply for public support. In general, the effectiveness of financial public support is questioned for two reasons. First, the objectives of public intervention are not clearly defined, leading to ambiguity. Second, the distribution of funds is based on the number of journalists in each outlet, which tends to favour larger metropolitan media outlets and increases concentration at the local level. This can disadvantage smaller media outlets operating at the provincial and municipal levels.

The central state’s financial support for local media has experienced a slight increase in recent years. However, due to the highly fragmented nature of the editorial and broadcasting system, public support is also fragmented. Consequently, it becomes challenging to identify precisely which entities have benefited the most or encountered difficulties in this regard.[8]

Community media, like other local and national media outlets, face challenges in generating revenues. There is a lack of reliable data regarding their “private” sources of revenue, not least because community media are not obligated to file financial statements. The national government provides grants to community media, primarily TV and radio stations: 50% of the funding dedicated to community broadcasters is distributed equally among all eligible beneficiaries, while the other 50% is based on merit criteria concerning, in brief, the number of employees and journalists. In the last five years, the community radio and television stations that applied for support were, respectively, around 300 in each sector. The percentage of those that ultimately receive funding after evaluation typically hovers around 80% and the total amount of financial support hovers around five million euros for community televisions and community radio stations (each). Broadly speaking, the resources allocated may not always be sufficient to meet the needs of all community media organisations.[9] Additionally, the dispersion of community media outlets across different regions and localities means that the support may not reach all the initiatives equally.[10]

Generally, there are no substantial funding sources specifically dedicated to promoting innovation in local media. From this perspective, public funding is sometimes regarded as outdated, as it primarily focuses on digitising the production and distribution of media content. In addition, crowdfunding experiences have been deemed largely unsuccessful.[11]

[1] Sindacato Nazionale Autonomo Giornalai, ‘Oltre l’80% degli italiani ritiene importante l’informazione in edicola’, 27 March 2023 https://www.snagnazionale.it/default.php?t=news&id=1140 .

[2] AGCOM, Elenco Pubblico degli Operatori di Comunicazione, https://www.agcom.it/elenco-pubblico. Confindustria Radio Televisioni, ‘Studio Economico Settore Radiotelevisivo Privato Italiano 27° Edizione’. 2022 https://confindustriaradiotv.it/studio-economico-tv-3/; AGCOM, ‘Sistema dell’informazione: documento conclusivo della prima fase di consultazione pubblica’, 2021. https://www.agcom.it/osservatorio-sul-giornalismo-iii-edizione . A. Mangani, 2022; A. Mangani and B. Pacini, 2022.

[3] R. Carlini, M. Trevisan, E. Brogi, 2023.

[4]A. Cornia, ‘Digital News Report- Italy’, Reuters Institute, University of Oxford, 2023: https://reutersinstitute.politics.ox.ac.uk/sites/default/files/2023-06/Digital_News_Report_2023.pdf .

[5] Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni (2023), Focus Bilanci 2017-2021,https://www.agcom.it/focus ; R. Carlini, M. Trevisan, E. Brogi, 2023; Confindustria Radio Televisioni, 2022. R. Congiu, ‘ Cosa si stanno inventando i giornali locali’, 11 February 2021, https://www.ilpost.it/2021/02/11/giornali-locali-italia/.

[6] Confindustria Radio Televisioni, 2022; Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni, 2021, https://www.agcom.it/osservatorio-sul-giornalismo-iii-edizione

[7] Governo italiano, Dipartimento per l’informazione e l’editoria https://informazioneeditoria.gov.it/it/attivita/misure-di-sostegno-alleditoria/contributi-erogati/ ; https://www.mimit.gov.it/index.php/it/contributi-emittenti-locali/graduatorie#tv-comunitarie; R. Carlini, M. Trevisan, E. Brogi, 2023.

[8] Camera dei deputati, Studi, ‘Interventi per l’editoria’, 8 marzo 2022 https://temi.camera.it/leg18/temi/tl18_interventi_editoria.html https://informazioneeditoria.gov.it/it/attivita/misure-di-sostegno-alleditoria/contributi-erogati/; https://informazioneeditoria.gov.it/it/notizie/bonus-una-tantum-edicole-2022-fondo-straordinario-per-gli-interventi-di-sostegno-all-editoria/; Dipartimento per l’informazione e l’editoria, ‘L’editoria da…i numeri’ https://www.informazioneeditoria.gov.it/it/approfondimenti-e-normativa/leditoriada-i-numeri/elaborazioni-grafiche/ .

[9] https://www.mimit.gov.it/index.php/it/contributi-emittenti-locali/graduatorie  https://www.aeranticorallo.it/dpr-23-8-17-n146-regolamento-concernente-i-criteri-di-riparto-tra-i-soggetti-beneficiari-e-le-procedure-di-erogazione-delle-risorse-del-fondo-per-il-pluralismo-e-linnovazione-dellinformazione-in-fav-2/ ;  R. Carlini, M. Trevisan, E. Brogi, 2023.

[10]  R. Carlini, M. Trevisan, E. Brogi, 2023.

[11] Anonymous sources, online interviews between May and September 2023.

Safety of local journalists High risk (67%)

While there may be good working conditions for established journalists with a permanent position, there has been an increase in workload due to downsizing and a reduction in the division of labour. This situation has affected young journalists who often face poor working conditions and the competition of retired journalists who continue working without compensation. Freelance journalists play a crucial role in sustaining the local press, but frequently face unfavourable working conditions, especially in online media outlets (very high risk). Media outlets pay freelance journalists on a per-piece basis, which depends on the significance of the media outlet, the complexity of the journalistic task, the length of the piece, and numerous other considerations. Several online platforms allow contributors to offer their work typically earning 3 to 5 euro per piece, although in some specialised sectors content can be rewarded with considerably higher fees. The average compensation for a freelance journalist can be estimated around 20,000 euro per year (while the average wage of a salaried journalist ranges from 19,000 to 32,000 euros per year, depending on the position held[1]). Limited resources, increased workloads, and precarious employment situations can all contribute to potential limitations in content quality.[2]

The statistics on attacks and threats against journalists can vary depending on the source collecting the data, although all sources agree on a slight increase of attacks in the last five years. The trend of both national and local media is similar. In the case of local media, the proximity between journalists and their potential audience can increase the risk of attacks, and there have been instances of attacks, particularly targeting local TV stations.[3]

The influence and presence of professional associations can vary depending on the region under consideration. However, the main professional organisation (Ordine dei Giornalisti), which oversees their qualifications and ethical standards, has a branch in each Italian Region. Similarly, the primary national-level trade union organisation (Federazione Nazionale Stampa Italiana) has various regional associations and unions.[4] It is not uncommon for journalists’ organisations at the local level to consist predominantly of retired individuals who may be more inclined to prioritise the interests of established members of the profession. This situation can create challenges in terms of adequately representing the diverse needs and concerns of all journalists, especially younger and freelance journalists.

In the case of local branches of national media, there is generally a good adherence to codes of ethics and conduct among local journalists. These branches often follow the ethical standards and guidelines set by their parent organisations, which helps ensure a level of professionalism in their reporting. National media outlets can sometimes be more superficial in reporting local events and stories compared to local media. Local media, being closer to the communities they cover, often have a better understanding of local dynamics and can provide more in-depth coverage of local issues. At the same time, the adherence to codes of ethics and conduct by strictly local and independent local media outlets may be more questionable, as they may not have the same level of institutional support and oversight (high risk).[5]

As for many other issues regarding journalism, the statistics about SLAPP cases may vary across different sources. Broadly speaking, in recent years, there has been a rise in vexatious lawsuits and legal threats, raising serious concerns since journalists can potentially face up to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to €50,000.[6]

[1] M. Carraretto, ‘Quanto guadagna un giornalista in Italia?’, 26 ottobre 2023 https://quifinanza.it/lavoro/stipendio-giornalista-italia/239516/

[2] Autorità per le Garanzie nelle Comunicazioni (2021). Sistema dell’informazione: documento conclusivo della prima fase di consultazione pubblica. https://www.agcom.it/osservatorio-sul-giornalismo-iii-edizione.

[3] FNSI, ‘Minacce’, 2023 https://www.fnsi.it/news-minacce. Ministero dell’Interno, Atti intimidatori nei confronti dei giornalisti, 2023 https://www.interno.gov.it/it/stampa-e-comunicazione/dati-e-statistiche/atti-intimidatori-nei-confronti-dei-giornalisti . Council of Europe, ‘Platform for the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalists (2023), Alerts- Italy’, https://fom.coe.int/en/accueil.

[4]: https://www.fnsi.it/associazioni ; https://www.odg.it/ordini-regionali .

[5] Anonymous sources, online interviews between May and September 2023.

[6] F. Martone, ‘SLAPP: tattiche diffuse di intimidazione a chi è impegnato nel diritto ad informare’, 9 June 2021Thttps://www.intersezionale.com/2021/06/09/slapp-tattiche-diffuse-di-intimidazione-a-chi-e-impegnato-nel-diritto-di-informare/#sdfootnote5sym; P. Rosà, ‘SLAPPs in Italy. A limited selection of cases from an ocean of lawsuits’, 2021: https://www.rcmediafreedom.eu/Dossiers/Thematic-factsheet-SLAPP-in-Italy-a-democratic-emergency.

Editorial independence – Medium risk (56%)

While legislative acts establish rules on the regulation and prevention of political control,[1] there are concerns about conflicts of interest and potential political pressure on editorial content for various local media throughout Italy. This situation can pose a risk of conflicts of interest and exert political pressure on editorial content (high risk).[2] Although Corecoms (the regional branches of the national media authority, AgCom) claim to regularly monitor potential conflicts of interest in critical situations, there is no evidence of measures addressing dangerous connections between local politics and media. Available public databases do not clearly disclose ownership structures or actual owners of each media outlet.

In the case of local broadcasting (TV and radio stations), the distribution of subsidies and the requirements to access the contributions raise few concerns, especially in terms of transparency and fairness. In the press industry, the criteria for accessing subsidies can largely be met through the establishment of formal structures (primarily cooperatives), with no qualitative parameter for determining the allocation of contributions. This may lead to discrimination against fair competition: two identical media outlets (in terms of firm size, target audience, and content variety), have unequal resources solely due to their different legal statutes. In addition, some experts argue that there is still a web of interests and political and patronage-based divisions that influence the current distribution of subsidies to local media[3]. Regarding indirect subsidies (tax benefits, tariff reductions, expense reimbursements, and tax credits), a significant portion of the granted incentives is geared towards traditional print products.

The distribution of state advertising is regulated by law. However, it is unclear what criteria are used to determine the media outlets targeted by advertising investments.[4] The AgCom has intervened approximately twenty-four times due to alleged non-compliance with those criteria by local administrations. In 13 of these cases, AgCom determined a breach of the law.[5]

Local media rely heavily on advertising investments, which can lead to commercial considerations influencing editorial content. For example, the media coverage of “big spenders” may be influenced to avoid negative portrayals. However, for very small media companies, advertisers are also small in scale, and their influence on editorial content is limited. On the other hand, numerous local media outlets, particularly those operating in the online sphere, rely heavily on “clickbait” tactics. This implies that the determination of news values (i.e., newsworthiness) often leans towards sensationalising events and stories for coverage.

While, at the local level, there are few tools to ensure the independence of journalists from political influences and pressures, in the local press industry media outlets demonstrate a commendable resilience. TV and radio stations maintain strong connections with local institutions, regardless of the political majority in power. At the same time, this does not necessarily imply that media companies are subjected to undue political pressure or influence. There are regional initiatives aimed at promoting, among other things, the independence of local information against potential external pressures.

The independence of local branches of AgCom is a matter of concern. This is because the members of the regional branches are appointed by the Regional Council, based on the proposal of the President of the Region. Consequently, the regional political majority holds the power to appoint the members of the local Corecom (the committee responsible for monitoring the independence of local information).[6]

With regard to RAI, the Italian PSM, the availability of information on the local branches’ independence from political influences is limited. RAI falls under the influence of the coalition holding the majority in the Italian Parliament, which often extends its control to the regional branches. In practice, there have been recent cases of questionable appointments in the regional public broadcasting service (high risk).[7]

There is a lack of available data to measure content diversity at the local level. Since many local media outlets depend heavily on advertising investments and due to high concentration ratios in local media markets, local media often prioritise audience maximisation by minimising content and tone differentiation.

[1] Autorità Garante della Concorrenza e del Mercato (2023), Conflitto di interessi,: https://www.agcm.it/competenze/conflitto-di-interessi.

[2] G. Faggionato, ‘ Giornalismo e potere, tutti gli intrecci tra stampa locale e interessi privati’, Domani, 14 february 2022 https://www.editorialedomani.it/politica/italia/giornalismo-padroni-media-kjz600wf; L. Mosciatti, ‘Tosinvest (Angelucci) vende il 100% del gruppo Corriere a Polimedia, 22 December 2022, ‘https://www.engage.it/media-industry/tosinvest-angelucci-vende-il-100-di-gruppo-corriere-a-polimedia.aspx; https://www.assemblea.emr.it/corecom/il-corecom/comitato/cosa-fa;  A, Mangani, 2022; A. Mangani and B. Pacini, 2022.

[3] Anonymous sources, online interviews between May and September 2023.

[4] P. L. Santoro, ‘Ecco come zampillano i contributi statali ai giornali. Report Data Media Hub’, 8 gennaio 2022: https://www.startmag.it/economia/come-vanno-i-contributi-editoria-giornali/; Il Post, ‘I giornali che ricevono i contributi pubblici (seconda rata del 2021)’, 3 February 2023, https://www.ilpost.it/2023/02/03/finanziamento-pubblico-giornali-2021/; .

[5] From the author’s review of AGCOM’s proceeding: https://www.agcom.it .

[6] https://www.agcom.it/co.re.com .

[7] G. Rossi, ‘ ‘Rai: al TGR Lomardia promassa la moglie del condirettore’, Il Corriere, 14 September 2023, https://milano.corriere.it/notizie/cronaca/23_settembre_14/rai-alla-tgr-lombardia-promossa-la-moglie-del-condirettore-giornalisti-in-rivolta-inopportuna-3d9f6d71-f020-405e-903a-a9640f3e4xlk.shtml?refresh_ce, L. Di Giuseppe, ‘Rai, il M5s vota con la maggioranza sul contratto di servizio, sullo sfondo la partita per la Tgr’, Domani, 3 October 2023 https://www.editorialedomani.it/politica/italia/rai-il-m5s-vota-con-la-maggioranza-sul-contratto-di-servizio-sullo-sfondo-la-partita-per-la-tgr-kg6r4ht7; FNSI, ‘Tgr Rai Sardegna, Usigrai e Cdr: «Da capo ufficio stampa Regione a caporedattore, fatto grave»’, 19 September 2023: https://www.fnsi.it/tgr-rai-sardegna-usigrai-e-cdr-da-capo-ufficio-stampa-regione-a-caporedattore-fatto-grave

Social inclusiveness – High risk (61%)

The provision of news in minority languages by the public service media (PSM) is asymmetric, with some languages being excluded. RAI is committed to ensuring a television and radio programming offering for the German and Ladin language minorities (in the provinces of Bolzano and Trento), Slovenian language minority (in Friuli-Venezia Giulia), and French language minority (in Valle d’Aosta), while in 2021, agreements were finalised for the protection of the Sardinian and Friulian languages. On the other hand, PSM broadcasting fails in including other minority languages recognised and protected by law (Albanian, Catalan, Greek, and Croatian). Broadly speaking, the general representation of minorities in PSM appears stronger and coherent in regions such as Valle d’Aosta, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Trentino-Alto Adige, while in other regions minorities risk being inadequately represented (high risk)[1]. With regards to the representation of minorities and the related tone and narratives, negative portrayals of Roma and Sinti communities remain widespread.[2]

There are very limited examples of private news services in non-legally recognised minority languages (Chinese, Romanian and Arabic languages), predominantly in radio broadcasting, but information and data regarding this topic are relatively scarce, and it remains uncertain whether minorities are adequately represented in private media (high risk)[3]. It appears that attention given to minorities fluctuates depending on other events that capture the interest of media, institutions, and citizens. However, over the past five years, press coverage of immigration has been decreasing, while television outlets have been showing an increase in attention[4]. The language used to describe these phenomena is however not entirely appropriate. In addition, the phenomenon of migration, once characterised by its exceptional nature, has assumed a sense of normalcy within the media discourse, while still maintaining its central position with new nuances.[5]

The attention towards other marginalised groups (for example LGBTQ+ communities and persons with disabilities) is generally decreasing in television news. In addition, in TV programmes, these topics are often superficially explored, presented in sensationalist or paternalistic tones, and accompanied by polarised debates (high risk). Streaming platforms and pay channels show better performance. Radio programmes, podcasts, and online content creators demonstrate better representation and exploration of diversity topics.[6]

Apart from minorities, local media, particularly print and online news websites, tend to adequately address the critical information needs of the communities they serve. However, the same cannot be said for local TV and radio stations, which may fall short in providing sufficient information. Some possible reasons for this difference between news formats include resource constraints, audience preferences, journalistic priorities at the local level, and scarce community engagement.[7]

In relation to the last point, local media outlets in general show a genuine interest in engaging with the local community. When questioned, some local journalists affirm that the engagement and participation of local residents are evident. However, due to the limited number of journalists working in many of these outlets, it becomes challenging to adequately cover all areas comprehensively.[8]

[1] Aclif, L’offerta radiotv per le minoranze linguistiche, 2021 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BIOf5gSLWA . Rai (2022), https://www.rai.it/trasparenza/Rai-sociale-e-sostenibilita-725819b7-df44-402d-9e7e-2623f1b304e3.html .

[2] Council of Europe, ‘Resolution CM/ResCMN(2023)4 on the implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities by Italy’, 2023.

[3] E. M. Palici di Suni, ‘Conclusioni. ‘La rappresentanza delle minoranze linguistiche: alcuni spunti problematici’. In La rappresentanza delle minoranze linguistiche (pp. 153-158). Università di Trento,  2023 https://iris.unito.it/handle/2318/1895233 .

[4] Associazione Carta di Roma,’ NOTIZIE DI TRANSITO VIII rapporto Carta di Roma’, 2022 https://www.cartadiroma.org/news/in-evidenza/immigrazione-cresce-la-dimensione-dellaccoglienza-cala-lattenzione-sui-flussi-migratori/?_gl=1*ru0bn3*_up*MQ..*_ga*MTQ1MDk0OTY5My4xNjk1MjE2ODA5*_ga_JWT7JLRE91*MTY5NTIxNjgwOC4xLjEuMTY5NTIxNjgyMC4wLjAuMA. A. Pocecco, ‘La costruzione dello straniero tra narrazioni mediali e rappresentazioni sociali’, Studi di sociologia, 8 (2), pp. 219-233, 2020. https://www.torrossa.com/en/resources/an/4661929. I. Matteucci,’ I frames della migrazione in Italia: rappresentazioni nei media e opinione pubblica’, Sociologia e Ricerca Sociale, 125 (2), 2021  https://www.torrossa.com/it/resources/an/5122646 .

[5] AGCOM, ‘Pluralismo politico e sociale in radio’, 2023 https://www.agcom.it/pluralismo-politico-sociale-in-radio. AGCOM, ‘Pluralismo politico e sociale in televisione’, https://www.agcom.it/pluralismo-politico-sociale-in-televisione ..

[6]Diversity Lab, ‘Diversity Media Report 2023’.  https://www.diversitylab.it/ .

[7] Diversity Media Report 2023.

[8] L. Leone, M. Della Mura, ‘L’informazione locale social e il readers engagement’. Problemi dell’informazione, 47(2), 199-224, 2022 .https://www.ilpost.it/2021/02/11/giornali-locali-italia; R. Congiu, 2021; ‘Pascarella: “Il giornalismo locale è il vero giornalismo, ma dobbiamo ritrovare i giovani”, VareseNews, 28 October 2022.https://www.varesenews.it/2022/10/pascarella-giornalismo-locale-vero-giornalismo-dobbiamo-ritrovare-giovani/1513319/; ‘I giornalisti locali? “Costretti ad essere i migliori“: Diego Minonzio racconta La Provincia di Como’ 26 October 2022 https://www.varesenews.it/2022/10/giornalisti-locali-costretti-ad-migliori-diego-minonzio-racconta-la-provincia-como/1512197/ .

Best practices and open public sphere

There are numerous experiences of innovative responses to improve reach and audience, but evaluating their potential is challenging. Some initiatives focused on engaging with the audience through citizen journalism, although these endeavours often require more resources to thrive. Municipalities, on the other hand, tend to utilise social media platforms, such as Twitter accounts, as communication channels to inform the population about various topics, including transportation and public works.[1]

The most important (and often unique, at the local level) initiatives that tackle the decline of local and community news provision are community media. These initiatives are spread across the entire national territory, including northern, central, and southern areas. Many community media are local radio stations (some examples: Radio Bullets in Naples, Radio Città Fujiko in Bologna, Radio Blackout in Turin; in addition, twenty local radios across the country are affiliated to Popolare Network, headed by Radio Popolare), because of the long tradition of radio stations in representing the specific characteristics of local areas and communities. Regarding TV stations, only a few attempts have been made to adopt innovative forms of information dissemination to enhance their reach and attract a wider audience. More innovative experiences are digital newspapers (e.g. those under the company Citynews, e.g. Milanotoday, Baritoday…), blogs (e.g., Napoli Unplugged in Naples), websites (e.g., Piemonte Share in the Piedmont Region), and podcast platforms (e.g., Spreaker’s podcasts in various locations). These media outlets serve as a means for communities to express their unique perspectives, share local news and information, and engage in public discourse.

[1] S. Blasi, E. Gobbo,and S. R. Sedita, S. R., ‘Smart cities and citizen engagement: Evidence from Twitter data analysis on Italian municipalities’, Journal of Urban Management, 11 (2), pp. 153-165 https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2226585622000206 . A. Perissinotto, ‘ Raccontare: strategie e tecniche di Storytelling’ , Laterza, 2022;