Monday, February 15, 2010

The Mediterranean Countries

by Sara Klausing

HALLIN & MANCINI: The Mediterranean or the Polarized Pluralist Model

Hallin and Mancini tackle The Mediterranean or Polarized Pluralized Model. To begin it is provided that the “Mediterranean” countries include Greece, Portugal, Italy, Spain, and France. The last nation, France, is generally considered a borderline case but is included because its media “tends to be dominated by a political sphere” (Hallin and Mancini 90). Hallin and Mancini give us generalizations about the Mediterranean region, such as the political spectrum remained wider and the political differences were sharper than in Northern Europe or North America. The authors present the development of nineteenth-century newspapers in Southern Europe as the expression of ideas, both literary and political, became prominent.

The historic backdrop to media

Mussolini, 2nd from the left

May 1968, Paris

Carnation Revolution, Portugal, 1974

In 1976, Santori first identifies the “polarized pluralist model” as a system “with many political parties, distinct in their ideological orientations, ranging over a wide political spectrum and including ‘antisystem’ parties on the right and left” (130). Essentially, we can infer that a medium in this case is “polar” – either extremely conservative or liberal. In such a multiparty system, the most important aspect of political communication becomes the process of bargaining that occurs between parties and other political influencers.

French media: Polar opposites

La Croix, Catholic, Paris

L’Humanite, Communist, Paris

Hallin and Mancini then introduce the main characteristics of the model, the first of which is a strong relationship between politics and media. They state that France and Italy specifically have the highest levels of state subsidies to the press in Europe. Newspaper circulation, ranging from the extremely conservative and Catholic La Croix to more liberal newspapers such as La Liberation and L’Humanité in France, is a primary example of this characteristic. Italy’s media system is also a strong example as Prime Minister Mussoluni who is an important political leader as well as a media owner/controller. The heavy focus on media and political life is evident in media throughout the Southern European Countries.

In the Polarized Pluralist Model an elitist nature of journalism is apparent. As newspapers typically “valued more highly writers, politicians and intellectuals”, journalism was considered “a secondary occupation, poorly paid and to which one aspired often as a springboard to a career in politics” (110). In fact, the process of journalistic professionalization did not develop as strongly or quickly in the Southern European countries as it did in the North. Hallin and Mancini assert that Mediterranean newspapers have “smaller and more sophisticated readerships” while the level of professionalization, although increased in the past few decades of the twentieth century, remained lower (111).

The Southern Europe journalist is esteemed. Filmmaker Passolini wrote regularly for the newspaper.


From the 1970s and 1980s, the Mediterranean Countries saw a shift toward a more market-orientated press. The most significant element of this system has been the use of media by commercial owners, both private and state linked, to wield influence on the political world. As the media migrated to a capitalist system, the state became a central force in Southern Europe with other social actors.

France Soir & Spain's El Pais

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