ITALY. Critical junctures in the media transformation process.
The present study details the critical junctures in the change of risks and opportunities in the four domains of Italian media systems – the legal domain, journalism, media usage patterns, and media competencies – that are expected to contribute or deter from deliberative communica-tion as the outcome variable. The study finds a legal framework that is in most respects in ac-cordance with European standards of freedom of expression and information, but a significant degree of conflicting legislation, especially regarding various defamation offences. In Italy, frequent legislative changes are seen in the media field, attesting to the fact that it has still not stabilized into a coherent policy-led system. Evidence of hybridity of media systems is seen in media practices, which take place in a diverse yet highly concentrated media system, most like the Mediterranean polarized pluralist media system model from the Hallin and Mancini (2004) typology. Media related competences and media literacy appear to better in some areas and population groups that in others. The journalism market is still diverse and varied, although subject to economic constrictions as well as pressures in the form of many SLAPP lawsuits.