Intercultural Information and the Role of the Ethnic Media in Italy: A Sociological Study
Department of Political Science, Communication and International Relations, University of Macerata, Italy
- *Corresponding Author:
- Giacomo Buoncompagni
Ph. D student in Sociology (Human Sciences)
Department of Political Science
Communication and International Relations
University of Macerata, Italy
Received Date: March 14, 2018; Accepted Date: April 05, 2018; Published Date: April 14, 2018
Citation: Buoncompagni G. Intercultural Information and the Role of the Ethnic Media in Italy: A Sociological Study. Global Media Journal 2018, 16:30.
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Digital progress has accelerated the processes of production and sharing of information and the possibility of collaboration, dialogue and negotiation. The problem of the "different from me" has been addressed over time by many cultures. In the new information society, ideas, technologies, people, products are intended to move from one place to another, but remaining interconnected within an environment where cultures come into contact with the need to enhance identity and differences among individuals. This is only possible through significant exchanges of opinions with others, leading to opportunities to meet. The development of media influences our daily experience in the global world, understood as a new mediated space defined by relationships themselves, where they build the framework of our civilization. The media are called to create social, moral and responsible spaces in a multicultural and democratic society: this means responsible information and quality as the foundation of democracy and the common good.
Digital media; Intercultural journalism; Migration; Mediapolis;
Multiculturalism; Ethnic media; Italy
Italian Journalism and Migration
The Fifth Report 2017 submitted by the Italian Journalism
Association “Carta di Roma” entitled "Notizie da paura" (“Scary
news”), on the theme of media and immigration, shows how
in the last year, there have been peaks of anxiogenic news and
alarmist television reports strongly present in the narrative
produced by the Italian media in relation to migration processes,
especially in relation to specific events of a chronicle, in particular
black chronicle and judicial1.
Nevertheless, according to John Maria Bellu, journalist and
President of the Association “Carta di Roma”, if one analyzes the
complex of journalistic production on immigration, it is possible
to note how the use of legal terms has decreased: words like
"migrant” and "refugee” have been replaced, in the generality of
titles, by the term "clandestine".
However the need to reassess the manner in which article of
news are selected and made hierarchical emerges with urgency.
Migratory movements appear increasingly multifaceted, so
much so that today many places of departure you characterize,
simultaneously, to also be places of landing or transit.
The political response that seems to prevail is to implement,
within their own borders, safety measures to restrict migratory
flows, with the sole purpose of discouraging the input of others
and make it more uncertain and less easy .
The uncertainty and the perception of in security thus
promote raising the barriers between the subjects and prevent
communication, dialogue and exchange .
It is thus that the identity of the “migrant man” configures only
and exclusively through the eyes of a country of immigration:
identity that perhaps it would be more accurate to define as
"no-identity": the migrant is a "no-national", he is another with
respect to the whole, he is a no-social subject.
There are two important aspects: the perception and the
representation of immigration in Italy within the processes of
mass communication and in particular by the new media.
Macioti , Italian sociologist, talks about a “strong sense of
irresponsibility” on the part of the media, following the adoption
of a communication which is vitiated and a language which is
never neutral, about a schematic "labeling" of the phenomenon,
which runs right through the lexical choices frequent in the media.
Illegal immigration is still considered as a constant threat to the
national economy, labor market, religion, culture: this is the
limits that the Italian mass media continue to show with regards
of cultural diversity.
Now, the same situation is likely to occur in the new media [3,4].
The significant digital transformation has accelerated production
processes and the sharing of information and the possibility of
cooperation, dialogue and comparison/clash between individuals.
The telematic networks and new languages are changing the
social, economic and cultural context, causing an adjustment and/
or loss in respect of new forms of communication and exchange
The theorist of communication Marshall McLuhan  had
somehow foretold the birth of a "global village", inside which
ideas, technologies, people, products are intended to move from
one place to another, but they remain interconnected within an
ambient where different cultures come into contact and influence
Thus emerges the need for modern societies to enhance the
identity and the differences between individuals; this is only
possible through the comparison and exchange with others: this
is an opportunity for learning and meeting, in conditions that are
easily accessible and manageable2.
The problem of the "different from me" has been addressed
by many cultures, through models of exclusion or different
integration between justified by different cultural motivations
and contextualized particular historical periods .
Generally the awareness of a multicultural reality has
unfortunately led to formulating ethnocentric models and
strategies, safeguarding their own culture and their identity and
activating a mechanism of the negation of the other based on the
concept of "diversity"3.
The globalization of markets has also favored the formation of a
network of relationships which created fewer points of reference
and safety in our life , generating a strong sense of fear,
insecurity and a "liquid society" [8,9].
The action of the media, that we can call “the media-action", can be understood as an act of demarcation  which defines
national and linguistic borders to construct identity and relations
on the basis of common interests and styles of life shared.
The media therefore has a central role in the constitution of civic,
social and moral spaces.
New conditions are occurring: "medial pluralism" and the birth of
"polyphonic cultures" inside the Media-polis4.
The intercultural meeting in the online and offline environment, in
the absence of education and intercultural-medial competences,
creates social conflicts between peoples, greater distances and
the impossibility of dialogue .
Nowadays the means of communication are the mirror of the
diversity inherent in the European social fabric: they are not
limited to reproducing diversity, but actively contribute to its
It’s very important nowadays to consider the study and the
narration of intercultural journalism; media and ethnic minority,
providing us with an alternative approach to our idea of (inter)
Roidi  writes that “the unpreparedness, joined to the
presumption, represents the largest of the problems of journalist,
after that of independence ".
The fragility of Italian journalism and its professional culture
translates into a waiver with respect to the pedagogical role,
understood as cultural counterpart and interpretive media are all
called to play in the story of modern and multicultural society
Acceleration, fragmentation and dilation characterize online
information and this entire confused situation puts the role of
the mediator of a professional journalist to the test.
The result is a production discursive emotionally engaging
narrative but it’s distorted and it generates strong boundaries
in the social imagination legitimizing the distinction between
"them" and "us", which is not useful guidance to develop policies
of integration and active citizenship5.
Intercultural Journalism and the Ethnic Media
In an interconnected and multicultural society, information has
the task of promoting intercultural relations Garcea , involving
different visions of the world, often opposed to each other, but
these encourage attitudes of empathy, sensitività and involve
processes of adaptation and learning, action and collaboration
and seek to find an integrated solution.
Intercultural journalism arises on this road and aims to promote
a process of cultural adaptation between people of different
cultures and i.e.:
A complex of cognitive activities and behavior that affect both our existence in the culture in which we are born, both occasions
of contact with other cultures (..) the intercultural adaptation
represents an intellectual acquisition that is complete in the
moment in which we see in our mind the existence of worlds
that are different from ours, and respect them by means of our
Adapting does not mean renouncing their own values and
submitting to those of others, but concerns the attempt at
integration, openness to others, defending their own cultural
Journalism and information spaces must therefore be able to
sustain, communicate and to accommodate this attempt at
openness to diversity, recounting responsibly for a plural society
through tools such as study and training, awareness of stereotypes
and prejudices, opening to the newness and knowledge of the
mechanisms of interpersonal communication and mass .
The intercultural position is not uncritical acceptance of diversity:
Portera  highlights the need to begin a common path, not so
much based on the acceptance and respect of universalistic mold,
but on the possibility of identifying the real points of difference
and conflict, learning to manage the latter non-violently.
Nowadays the arena of the global media is fragmented, despotic,
un just and challenged but nevertheless; it “is the place where any
structure that can be made to support the culture of globalisation,
must necessarily be formed” .
Contemporary society is still characterised by boundaries that
are generators of conflict and confused reality: the admission of
diversity and the capacity to make distinctions are the constituent
elements of a new, solid and global ethic of communication7.
The media itself is part and fragment of this reality,; the Mediapolis
reflects and, together, generates the multicultural space,
the "voices" of these different cultures are articulated so in the
means of communication by creating a "Polyphony" .
The process of migration has accompanied the history of the
human race and has always been characterized by movements
of individuals, groups and cultures, triggered by changes of a
The difference between political refugees and economic migrants,
security and the enhancement of the difference, are aspects
which feature in the European public debate and not only.
The consequences of the phenomenon of immigration are,
however, well beyond the political agenda, in that it affects the
nature and character of a national culture, seriously in discussion
boundaries and identity8.
The policies of the response to the phenomenon of migration are
usually accompanied by problems whose etiology varies and are
dealt with in a different way often, as already demonstrated the tragic episodes of 2005 in the Parisian “banlieus” or the attack on
the London underground in the same year9.
The recent terrorist attacks in Europe have certainly not helped
to decrease the dangerous rhetoric of fears and threats,
understandable if you think about living in an era of global terror,
but they are counterproductive because it reproduces the logic of
the difference, instead of overcoming it.
These voltages are observed precisely in the
means of communication
They clearly show the future of public culture and of the civil
arena, a culture that will be marked by diversity and contrasts (…)
and the result of these voltages will produce effects the moral
and ethical determinants (…). The means of communication are
the mirror of the diversity inherent in the European social fabric.
They are not confined to reproduce this diversity, but actively
contribute to its proliferation .
The quality of information is a foundation of every democracy
and a common good.
In Italy, for example, next to the “Carta di Roma”, associations
and daily observers warn the Italian public opinion against the
abuse of information on the theme of migration, minorities and
Example of this variegated scenario are for example a lot of ethnic
media in Italy for example: the website "Cronache di ordinario
razzismo" (edited by the association Lunaria), the Center for
information on racism and discrimination in Italy, edited by the
association COSPE, the web site called “Redattore sociale” or
even the committee “Occhio ai media” presents in Ferrara10.
Also among the many initiatives in this context, an Italian
virtuous case is the memorandum of understanding on the
regional intercultural communication, approved in 2008 by
the Emilia Romagna Region and signed in February 2009 by
many organizations in the media sector and of intercultural
communication; in parallel there have been numerous actions for
the promotion and enhancement of intercultural media, training
activities, formative traineeships, aimed at young people of the
second generation of foreign origin, trying in this way to promote
their access to media space and its tools11.
The aim is to highlight the needs, problems, beauty and voice of
foreign communities in the Italian territory.
For Silverstone (2009) it is evident that
"The individual biography and history combine with one another
in a relationship often polyphonic (..) new technologies make
possible a new personal mobility: the individual not only moves
between one nation and another, but also between different
The forms of representation of otherness promoted by the
media have a fundamental significance not only for our moral
dimension, but for the future of the human condition.
The question is not limited to appearing or disappearing from
others in online and offline information, the importance of
listening and hearing becomes fundamental as well as the process
of attribution of the senses. Charles  defines this as "the right
to be included".
The “Polyphony” highlighted by the sociologist Silverstone 
has no sense if the items that compose it are not heard and
This, according to Charles , the ethnic media (media ethnic
or multicultural) will have a greater role in the mediated public
The facts diffused by the Italian press agencies of CEI (Italian
Episcopal Conference and SIR (Religion Information Service),
highlights how the ethnic media are over 100 in Italy, including
radio, newspapers, website and TV.
The market for ethnic media is constantly growing and in addition
to performing a service in the public interest is essential for the
community: intercultural information represents now a place
for debate and exchanges among migrants, promoting cultural
pluralism and information.
In Italy, thanks to the NGO COSPE was established in May 2005 a
national platform for multicultural Italian media was established
in May 2005 which tried to develop strategies for common work12.
Since from 2006, in Italy, most of the magazines, born in recent
years, have been printed monthly and they are present in many
regions of the Italian territories13.
The publications have an average diffusion media that varies
between 10,000 and 20,000 copies, to 5,000 for ethnic minorities.
The newspapers are concerned principally the news about rules,
rights and laws on immigration and the value with different
The editorial group “Stranieri in Italia”, for example, reaches
every month 600,000 readers in thirteen newspapers in language
dedicated to immigrants, the portal of the immigration www.
stranieriinitalia.it and numerous legal vademecum14.
Anyway the ethnic media which is the most read on the Italian
territory there is "Gazeta romanesca" (Romanian, 20,000 copies),
"Forum" (Russian Ukrainian, 20,000 copies) and "Nur" (in Arabic,
with about 20,000 copies); other online magazines such as "Africa
News”, “African Trumpet International" and "Bota Shqiptare"
(Albanian, winner of the Prize Mostafa Souhir in 2005)15.
The force and the amount of the information produced by
multicultural media, is increasing also thanks to new spaces
and languages born on the internet, through blogs, social
networking, chat room, because they offer a contribution which is
indispensable in the development of contemporary “Mediapolis”.
The Value of Culture and Hospitality
With respect to the mainstream system it is fundamental to
note how the internet has an interactive and public-transparent
nature and it is distinguished for its “hospitality” .
According Derrida (2002)
The hospitality is the culture itself and is not an ethic among
others. To the extent that touches the ethos, i.e. the tabernacle,
the be at-of-self, the place, the way we relate to himself and to
others as to their own or to strangers, ethics is hospitality, is from
part to part coextensive with the experience of hospitality, in
whatever way the opens or limits.
From the words of Derrida and from the equation proposed by
him (ethical-hospitality), hospitality presents itself as a duty more
than a law, an ethical principle that informs the world.
The means of communication of the minorities are taking on
an increasingly important role within the new digital media
environment and what distinguishes them, with respect to
the mainstream, is their ability and willingness to please the
community of reference and, at the same time, the prevailing
culture will be essential for the public culture of the future16.
Recognizing cultural differences also in medial space, implies
hospitality and therefore an opening toward the stranger, the
willingness to extend time and spaces on the platforms of the
The duty of hospitality is, for Silverstone , the requirement
necessary for building the Mediapolis and is the precondition of
"justice medial" toward the stranger in terms of representation in
the medial of the world: this prevents failure of communication
and the production of inadequate clearance between people,
cultures and news17.
Foreigners therefore, irrespective of their origin, need to be
received in the medial spaces worldwide also without the
presence of others (in our space) there would be an audience
who presents on ear to the voice of the other, so you could not
understand the differences and their presence in our reality.
Seeing (with the media and through the media) the other,
means to see them and be seen as foreigners: this is because
extraneousness, paradoxically, is the condition of our
membership, our culture, what nourishes our memory18.
The process of social integration among strangers, as always,
oscillates between inclusion and repulsion, friendship and
hostility, approval and marginalization, acceptance and rejection.
Beyond stereotypes and prejudices, migrant workers sometimes
appear as a necessary resource for economic and demographic
development, sometimes as a threat to national security .
Then rethinking new modes of representation of the phenomenon
of migration to new languages and narrative techniques,
integrating in the general storytelling, equires the ability to
accommodate the "different".
At the same time according to Marci , this means to reconsidering
this issue in the light of a more extensive process
that concerns all of us, not only as a member of the host
countries, but also as the next guests to a global world that sees
us, paradoxically, " ever closer in a mutual estrangement, more
sharers in a singular otherness, increasingly connected because
foreign and (increasingly) foreigners in a space that weaves and
connects our individual lives.
Therefore the theme of foreignness, of what we socially we
perceive as "stranger", assumes a particular value starting from
the way the media reports the news, in particular historical
contexts and social dimensions.
This does not mean that there is no "stranger" or that this is only
a product of a social labeling, but it means that:
The estrangement exists such as general problem and abstract,
given once and for all, capable of eliciting responses and different
relations in the course of history and in different social conditions.
They are indeed the social relations that determine the specific
meaning of what we consider a stranger, this we evaluate, good
or bad, as foreign, else from us.
The recognition of the other is possible only through a critical
attitude with regard to the representation of the latter, conveyed
by means of communication; this depends, not only on the
willingness and ability to assume this attitude, but it is also a
question of care and (medial) hospitality.
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