Thursday, October 8, 2009

France & Southern Europe

The Mediterranean or the Polarized Pluralist Model
In the mid 1970’s Greece, Portugal and Spain became liberal democracies, which was later than elsewhere in Europe. These countries, along with Italy and France, make up the region of Southern Europe. All of these countries share a holdover from the old garde: artistocracy, and absolute state and strong church presence. France is considered as a partial member.

The development of journalism was slower in southern Europe, mainly due to strong conservative traditions and illiteracy. It is highest in the Mediterranean in France but France is lower than any northern country. Importantly in these countries there are examples of church newspapers and political papers that demonstrated the value systems. The idea of polarized pluralist means right wing and left wing extremes with little middle ground.

La Croix, Catholic, Paris

L’Humanite, Communist, Paris

In the 1970’s-80’s most Mediterranean news shifted to market interest. Tabloid or sensationalist popular newspapers are virtually absent in the Mediterranean South, with the exception of France Soir. France Soir is important as one of the most read papers in France, second to Ouest France a regionally daily. France Soir was also part of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy. Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published them first in September 2005. France Soir reacted in summer 2006 by publishing them to demonstrate religious and press freedom. The paper said it had decided to republish them "because no religious dogma can impose itself on a democratic and secular society."

Political Parallelism
Political parallelism is the degree to which media align with party opinions. Greece is known for opinionated journalists who sometimes run for office. Italy has had filmmakers like Pasolini contribute Marxist based and party based material. French journalism is a journalism of expression, emphasizing the political ideas and opinions over hard news, though “information journalism” is growing. For example, The New York Times is 90% news dominated while Le Monde and Le Figaro are 70% news dominated.


Italy is an example of limited press freedom under Fascist Mussolini. After the liberation, anti-Fascist forces received the first news licenses. In Italy, the statistics reveal the political preference directly influences news source choices. Italian papers openly express political opinions such as in 1974 when a referendum was held to overturn the law permitting divorce, the paper “Il Messaggero” had the entire front page taken up by the word “No!”

The Carnation revolution in Portugal in 1974 freed the press. For Spain, the fall of Franco in 1975 resulted in more press supporting democratic ideals. Spain’s main paper El Pais’ guidelines now read “information and opinion shall be clearly differentiated from one another.”

Carnation Revolution, Portugal, 1974

Politics and Public Broadcasting
In Greece, Portugal and Spain the political majority has effective control of public broadcasting. In Italy, the RAI is discussed as a broadcaster with 3 channels each given to a different political force. France uses the rule of three thirds has been in place since 1969 allowing time on political speakers should be split government-parliamentary majority-opposition and when there are elections time must be equal between candidates. In 2000 small parties were also added in for time and the CSA monitors the content each month.

Professionalization, 110
Limited development of media markets in the Mediterranean countries meant that the level of professionalism was lower. Italy established an Order of Journalists in 1963 to encourage professionalism. In 1925, Mussolini had created the roll where the journalists were required to register, the only such roll anywhere in the world. The roll was controlled by the Government and was placed under the auspices of the Minister of Justice. In 1963, thanks to a new law, the roll became the professional order of journalists, complete with rules, pensions, control organs and admission requirements. A corporation based on firm principles. In fact, Law 69/1963 states that: the freedom to inform and criticize is the journalists inalienable right, while it is the journalists inescapable duty to respect the essential truth regarding the facts uncovered, and always to fulfill the obligations imposed by the spirit of loyalty and good faith.

Mussolini, 2nd from the left

May 1968, Paris

1968 in France created some shifts in ownership at Le Figaro. Liberation was created after the 1968 uprising as a cooperative radical paper. Le Monde keeps a policy of limiting advertising in order not to be swayed by anyone group

The Media and the State, 119
Italy and France have the highest levels of state subsidies in Europe in the form of tax breaks or reduced utilities. Portugal and Spain have less subsidies. What is your opinion of the government subsidizing press?

All EU countries are required to allow a right of reply to the press, if criticized. Scandals grew during the 80’s and 90’s. Italian journalists uncovered a Milanese bribe network. French journalists discovered nuclear testing.

Savage Deregulation, 124
What the other author called “injudicious” deregulation, this author calls savage. Portugal is the example of uncontrolled increase in public broadcasting, made worse by the removal of a license fee in 1991. Italy and Greece also qualify for some unmonitored broadcast development.

Polarized Pluralism, 129-133
The idea of polarized pluralism is an observation of countries who have far distance from right and left points of view. There has been a decrease in polarization in recent years. The characteristics of polarized pluralism
-closeness of the relationship between political actors and the media
-heavy focus of the media on political life
-elitist nature of journalism
-addressed to political insiders

Clientelism, 135
Clientelism is a pattern of social organization in which access to resources is controlled by patrons delivered to clients in exchange for support. The sharing of resources includes information (137) which creates problems in the press, if certain people are given information privileges.

In conclusion the French and Spanish media are the most political of this group, representing a wider range of ideological positions, included more commentary, with fewer stories, and tended to focus more in political party sources and organized civil society groups, especially than in America which uses judges as sources.

Burton, Cathie & Drake, Alan (2004). France in Hitting the Headlines in Europe: A Country-By-Country Guide to Effective Media Relations (PR in Practice), 2004: 117-120.

The French have only 18 newspapers per 100 adults, compared with 35 in Germany and 72 in Norway.

Best selling paper is L’Equipe and regionally Ouest.
Biggest mainstream paper is Le Parisien and Le Monde second.
Liberation is a leftist, liberal paper
Le Figaro is a right paper
There is only one national Sunday paper: Le Journal du Dimanche
Paris Match - leisure and celebrity
Courrier International - global news
Agence France Press - news agency
France 3 –TV
Europe 1 – Radio
Radio France International - public

The left wing papers versus the right

Paris Match is part of cultural theory history. It was the African boy giving a French salute on this cover of Paris Match in 1967 that Roland Barthes used to explain his theory of the signified.

Benson, Rodney and Daniel C. Hallin (2007). How States, Markets and Globalization Shape the News: The French and US National Press, 1965-97. European Journal of Communication, March vol. 22 (27 – 48).
The article concerns the 1960’s and 1990’s media structures and journalistic practice. There is a general idea that the American news media is more commercialized than the west. But it is also known that French media have a closer relationship to politics. The difference in economies and politics create different journalism. Using statistical analysis the authors conclude that the French press is not less critical of politics but more critical than the US. The French press has more negative and positive comments then neutral ones while the American press is more often neutral. The French press is also more ideological than the US press.

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