Immigration and the media, an open question


Photo by Sara Prestianni

Immigration is one of those ongoing issues dominating public debate. Aside from its political, legislative, cultural and social impact, another aspect should neither be overlooked: its rapport with the media. This underlying truth is confirmed in the 4th Report drawn up by the “Charter of Rome” and comprehensively expounded by the Sociologist Ilvo Diamanti. It is a survey highlighting how general media coverage of the immigration theme in 2016 rose by over 10% compared to 2015. “In the last year” says Ilvo Diamanti “there were 2954 reports on the subject on television news, almost 10 on average a day. Meaning, immigrants have become the prevalent theme in the news and public debate”. There is a growing focus by the media    (from the printed press to the various talk shows, to social networks) proving just how immigration remains a subject greatly interesting public opinion, often inflaming conflicting and contrasting passions. From fear of the “foreigner” to wanting to “welcome”, from the anxiety of being “invaded” to the need to encourage and promote “integration”.  However the point of most interest, as underlined by Diamanti himself, is that “the plethora of articles and headlines does not reflect the narrative drama of the subject. The continual arrival of immigrants” he adds “in fact no longer makes the main news. The invasion of immigrants on the media in the last year is instead seen and shown as a ‘normal’ phenomenon, as it keeps on growing. Even if controversy and alarmism concerning immigrants have not ceased. They are not over”. In other words, from the Report it emerges how the immigration theme recently comes across as a commonplace emergency; chiefly tackled by politics in a European key. Where, on the other hand, debate is more animated, and perhaps even more violent, is on the social network. And it is right here that communication threatens to get more violent just when talking about migrants and immigration. Indeed, perhaps  greater “monitoring” of the situation is required on this very front.
Which is therefore why greater care is going to be needed in the future when the immigrant theme is presented on the media; on the various news channels. In order to avoid, as Diamanti makes it very clear, “the scission between the normalising of the phenomenon on the traditional media and the dramatising it is subjected to on the new and immediate media”.
And neither can Rai’s Prix Italia, the oldest and most prestigious international competition for Radio, TV programmes and Web projects, remain indifferent to this theme and its implications and to the real repercussions which this phenomenon continues to have on today’s society.