Framing refugee news in the electorate cycle: the case of Italy
The current European refugee crisis affects many EU countries, including Italy, which due to its strategical location in the Mediterranean area, has become one of the main destinations for the migratory flows coming from Africa, the Balkans, and the Middle East. As for other European countries, the wave of discontent caused by the complexity of the refuge allocation system, the overall European far-right rising, and the national financial crisis, has brought to a governmental shifting towards extreme-right and populism in Italy. As confirmed by the outcome of the last general election held on the 4th of March 2018, Italy has turned out an anti-establishment government led by Northern League and the Five Star Movement. In this scenario, considering the overall call for answers and resolution raised from the public opinion, the Italian press often contributes to frame refugees with negative frames, especially during the election. Therefore, this study investigates refugee framing under the electoral cycle in Italy, applying some of the most discussed theories on news framing and agenda-setting theories and analyzing the main frames related to refugees in the Italian newspapers. Following the assumption before the election Italian news framed refugees with more salience and negativity, the main goal of this study is to explain in which ways the elections affect the framing of refugee in the Italian news. In order to resolve this research puzzle, this study gathers refugee news in two different time spans, before and after the election day, from four major Italian newspapers: La Repubblica, Il Corriere della Sera, Il Messaggero, Il Resto del Carlino. These four newspapers are inspected based on their diverse political alignment (liberalism and centrism-conservativism) and their news articles are evaluated through a framing analysis, underling trends and similarities and finally, driving wider conclusions on the Italian press. As main findings of this study, before the election the Italian press publishes more news about refugees and they overall represent negative topics linked to them. Moreover, there is a distinction in terms of refugee framing in news between liberal and centralist-conservative leaning outlets: the liberal-leaning outlets frame integration and solidarity, whereas centralist-conservative leaning outlets release violence and racism as their main frames.
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