Press

   The Italian press is characterized by two main features: its localism and its limited circulation. Italians read newspapers much less than northern Europeans do.
   There are only three newspapers that can claim an authentic national circulation: Corriere della Sera (center-right in political orientation, although critical of the center-right’s current leaders); La Repubblica (left, but not uncritically so); and La Gazzetta dello Sport, which dedicates acres of newsprint to the triple sporting obsessions of Italian males: football (calcio), cycling, and motor racing. These newspapers each sell over 500,000 copies per day. The other newspapers selling more than 300,000 or so copies a day throughout the country are all clearly associated with a particular city or region. La Stampa, a newspaper with clear, modern graphics, is owned by the FIAT group and has a readership drawn mainly from Piedmont and Liguria. Il Giornale, a hard-hitting right-wing newspaper owned by Paolo Berlusconi, Silvio Berlusconi’s brother, is principally sold in Milan and Lombardy. Il Messaggero is a Rome newspaper; Il Mattino is from Naples and southern Italy. One important newspaper that has a lower circulation, but which is highly influential, is Il Sole 24 Ore, the Italian equivalent of the Financial Times, which is the house organ of Confindustria, the industrialists’association. Several political parties have daily newspapers. These no longer sell in large quantities, but they are in any case generously subsidized by the state. The largest and most famous of these is unquestionably L’Unita, the newspaper founded by Antonio Gramsci, which was the house organ of the Partito Comunista Italiano/Italian Communist party (PCI) and which now, in a somewhat more independent manner, performs the same role for the Democratici di Sinistra/Democrats of the Left (DS). Another political paper worth mentioning is Il Foglio, a broadsheet written by political insiders for other political insiders.
   It should be said that the quality of most of these newspapers, if measured by the number of pages given over to cultural issues, long articles giving background on political or historical questions, and reviews of books or exhibitions, is extremely high. In fact, the intimidating nature of the principal Italian newspapers may explain why so few Italians actually read them. Only about 10 percent of Italians buy a newspaper every day; in Molise, a small southern region that has no big city nearby, this figure drops to around 5 percent. Purchase of newspapers has also been hit by the diffusion of the Internet, although the main Italian newspapers were quick to develop often excellent websites as an adjunct to their printed product. Nevertheless, the absence of a nationally distributed, middle-brow newspaper like Great Britain’s Daily Mailis interesting. Even more interesting is the absence of a scandalistic, sex and soaps daily tabloid like Britain’s Sunor Germany’s Bild. Italians are certainly interested in this kind of stuff: The word paparazzi, after all, is Italian, and there are a number of best-selling weekly magazines (Novella 2000, Gente) that specialize in photo reportages of adulterous film stars and politicians with sagging bellies.
   Two newspapers that deserve special attention here are Corriere della Seraand La Repubblica. The Corrierewas founded in 1876 and was owned by the Crespi family until the 1970s. Under the editorial leadership of two outstanding personalities, Eugenio Torelli Viollier and Luigi Albertini, the paper grew into one of Europe’s best-selling and most influential newspapers before World War I, boasting contributions from Luigi Einaudi, Gabriele D’Annunzio, and Luigi Pirandello, among others. The paper was antifascist under Albertini, but he was forced out in 1925, and the paper supported the regime from then on. It backed the Republic in 1946 and on the whole, in the words of its most famous postwar journalist, Indro Montanelli, “held its nose” and voted for the Democrazia Cristiana/Christian Democracy (DC). The current editor is Paolo Mieli, who is a wellregarded historian and essayist as well as a journalist. La Repubblica is a much more recent paper. Founded in 1975 by Eugenio Scalfari, it has a semi-tabloid format but is daunting in content, with limited coverage of trivia (though generous sports coverage) and very little cronaca nera(accounts of court cases, crimes, road accidents, and so on). The paper is politically progressive and aimed at professionals. It was an immediate success and reached a daily sale of 800,000 copies at the end of the 1980s. During the political crisis of the early 1990s the paper was one of the most vocal critics of the political parties and their leaders, especially Giulio Andreotti. Repubblica has been a consistently innovative paper. For instance, it was the first to introduce a give-away glossy magazine (Venerdi) and also publishes a color supplement for women. Repubblica is part of the Espresso group of newspapers and journals. Its sister paper, the weekly news magazine L’Espresso, is an investigative news and comment magazine with a large circulation and strong anti-Berlusconi political views.
   No survey of the press is complete without a brief discussion of Italy’s intellectual press. In the early 20th century magazines such as La Voce and Leonardo were influential literary magazines. Benedetto Croce’s La Critica was one of the most important philosophical and political magazines in Europe. After World War II, there was a lively political and ideological debate in Italy in intellectual journals such as Il Mulino, Il Ponte, Nuovi Argomenti, and Il Politecnico. The same tradition carries on today in the bimonthly Micromega, which has a reputation among intellectuals and philosophers that extends well beyond Italy itself.
   See also Media.

Historical Dictionary of Modern Italy. . 2007.

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