A pluralistic media system is a cornerstone of democracy. It enables the debate between competing opinions and views and it favours the exposition of the different social and political actors animating modern societies. Since its birth, the Osservatorio is engaged in the measurement of pluralism in the media, through a series of research projects on social and political diversity in content carried out at local, national and international level. In partnership with the University of Pavia, the Osservatorio has developed a quantitative methodology for the observation and the analysis of political communication in the mass media. This methodological effort has led to a long-term co-operation with Rai – the Italian public service broadcasting – for which the Osservatorio di Pavia has been carrying out media monitoring activities since 1994. The data produced by the Osservatorio di Pavia are utilised by the Parliamentary Commission on RAI.
Since 1997 researchers and experts of the Osservatorio di Pavia have been working in the field of technical assistance and capacity building in partnership with international governmental and non-governmental organisations and institutions including the United Nations, the European Union, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe – Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, the African Union and the Council of Europe.
Iows has contributed to put cultural and ethnic minorities present in Italy in the spotlight.
Cultural diversity has been often portrayed in a positive manner and in a way “normalised”. However, the media discourse is sometimes inclined to frame diversity in a stereotyped manners or, even worse, to endorse discrimination and offensive speech targeting minorities, thus contributing to a climate of public fear and closeness. Education and culture play a key role in shaping critical spirit and openness of mind, particularly among the youth. Therefore, the Osservatorio has launched a number of projects targeting both young people and adults and aimed at raising awareness on this theme.
Insecurity is one of the main sentiments that currently shape social behaviour. However, defining what is insecurity proves difficult. A set of factors contribute to its perception, including the economy, the labour market, global conflicts, health hazards. Over the most recent years, insecurity has been deeply intertwined to small-scale crime. The Osservatorio analyses media communication on this issue as well as public opinion perceptions in a panel of EU countries (Italy, the United Kingdom, France and Spain).
The media are the litmus test of national culture. At the same time, they also represent one of the main agents of cultural changes. By selecting issues of interest and framing such issues along specific perspectives, the media contribute to a great extent to the construction of social reality and public opinion.
In the present time of downturn, the media capacity to place in the heart of the agenda issues related to economy, business and employment is crucial. Since 1 January 2017 the Osservatorio has launched a permanent monitoring project on these issues.
The no-profit sector has become a strategic area to understand social needs and to build a civil coexistence. It is a key innovation engine for Italy that is committed to reach the 17 objectives for a sustainable development by 2030.
Building upon its long-term experience in this field, in 2016 the Osservatorio has established a permanent laboratory on the media portrayal of the no-profit sector in all its forms and approaches.
Over the last 20 years, the Osservatorio has been engaged in researches and projects concerning media and gender with a special attention to themes related to women and television, women and information, women in communication, both at national and international level.
The Osservatorio has been working in the sector of minors’ protection over the last 20 years. The media feed, animate and influence perceptions, life-styles and beliefs of the youth. This draws from the media key elements to build their identity, their vision of the worlds, their models of health, well-being, consumption and their overall vision of society.
The media convey culture and lifestyles more than one would be prone to think. They contribute to attaching a socially shared significance to the set of symbols and signs that shape a country’s cultural system through radio, tv, press or internet, with blogs and social networks, or audio-visual fiction and entertainment programmes that are watched on the tv screen in one’s living room or more frequently on tablets and smartphones.
The Osservatorio di Pavia has used several analysis techniques to detect lifestyles and cultural phenomena conveyed by the media.
These two issues are central in the media agenda, particularly vis à vis emergencies and natural disasters. In this regard, the Osservatorio has established two projects aimed at monitoring to what extent and how the two subjects are covered in old and new media.