Interviewers’ Use of Coercive Questioning during a Midterm Period Favorable to the Opposition Party
Journalism is generally expected to be objective and neutral—not influenced by political power. Conversely, Italian televised journalism often appears influenced by the distribution of political power. The current study investigates the impact of political changes in Italy on journalistic questioning techniques. Using new software with multimodal and interactive characteristics (Si.Co.D.), we examined the interrogation styles of two interviewers (Vespa and Ferrara), one (Vespa) working for a public television channel (Rai2) and the other (Ferrara) for a private television channel (La7). Specifically, we compared the level of coercion used by these interviewers when questioning politicians from both the center-right and center-left, before and after two elections (2004 European and 2005 Regional elections) that were favorable to the opposition (at the time, center-left). Results showed that the interviewers became more coercive toward the winning coalition (center-left) but in different ways: Vespa reduced his coerciveness toward the governing wing, whereas Ferrara increased his coerciveness toward the opposition. Results are discussed with attention to the political implications of this journalistic bias.
KeywordsPolitical journalism Electoral context Televised interviews Si.Co.D software
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