Rai: children and the representation of pain on TV
6. Note on methodology
The research presented here has the intention of analysing
the modalities of representing the children involved (age:
0-14 years) in painful events presented by Italian State
Television. This purpose was pursued by means of content
analysis, a methodological instrument that allows
for a quantitative-qualitative registration of the characteristics
of television broadcasts, able to describe in a sufficiently
articulated way the ways of representing certain subjects
or social questions.
The registration was carried out during the months of
March and April 2001 and concerned everything broadcast
by the Rai twenty four hours a day. In consideration of
the crimes that occurred during the period under analysis,
however, it was decided to extend the research to the whole
month of February, carrying out an in-depth study of the
case of the murder of Samuele Lorenzi, in Cogne on the
30th January. With regard to this second "block" of
research, the survey was carried out, apart from with the content
analysis technique, also by means of a purely qualitative
analysis, with the in-depth study of the programmes that
dedicated a whole episode, or a significant part of an
episode, to the event.
For the part of the research that investigated the representation
of children in painful situations in general, the television
broadcasts analysed were divided into two separate categories:
information programmes, including newscasts,
news bulletins or television reports, programmes that
give more in-depth news services, reviews treating questions classified
and society", surveys, debates and socio-political
television fiction produced by the Rai, including
plays and mini-series, TV films, situation comedies, soap operas
and feature length films for television.
What are defined here as "painful situations",
include episodes and conditions that can vary both in intensity,
from the moderate to the extreme, and in type, which could
be social or private.
For that part that specifically concerned the Cogne murder,
the analysis of newscasts, on one hand, and of news programmes,
on the other, have been considered separately.
On the whole, therefore, the units analysed of the entire
perioed studied, from February to April, are the following:
newscasts and programmes that in March and April
2002 dealt with painful events involving children, amounting
to 452 units analysed;
fiction productions, of one or more episodes,
during the March-April period, recounting painful stories involving
children, equal to 9 units analysed, out of a total
about 200 fiction production that were broadcast
in the months of March and April;
the newscasts that, in February, reported the
news of Samuele's murder (78 analysis units);
lastly, the programmes, also in February, that
focused one or more episodes, or significant parts of episodes,
on this crime, equal to 38 analysis units.
The analysis units represent the whole universe of reference,
in all four spheres of the survey, also in those which,
like the Rai fiction productions, which are rather few.
For each category a specific analysis questionnaire was
prepared; the total of the research, therefore, made use
of four different content analysis questionnaires,
each specially drawn up for this specific kind of research,
but all aimed at collecting the same type of information.
Information was collected on four large areas. That represented
by the structural characteristics of
the analysis unit - broadcaster,
time band, programme type; subject covered in
the newscast or programme, that is to say the sphere relative
to the subject treated; thirdly, the language used,
and lastly the images broadcast
together with the news.
Tab. 59 - The different types of analysis unit on
the reference globe:
Children and pain - Newscasts and
Children and pain - Fiction produced
by the Rai
The "Cogne case" - Newscasts
The "Cogne case" - Programmes
Source: Censis survey on data from the R-Telev.
Audience Inf. Centre, 2002