Rai: children and the representation of pain on TV
The Rai Social Action Department, together with the Permanent Confrontation
Office commissioned Censis (the National Statistics institute) to carry out
an evaluation survey, with data provided by the Radio-Television Audience
Centre, on how state television represents the painful events involving children.
Censis analysed the contents of 3 months of Rai programmes.
From this analysis it emerged that:
- television newscasts give a great deal of space and importance
to this kind of news: in 68% of cases the news services
last from 2 to 10 minutes and many programmes that go into
more depth dedicated much more than 10 minutes to this
kind of news service.
The times at which these news are dealt with are also the peak viewing times.
In 34.4% of cases it is the main item of the newscast or the programmes and
in 63.4% it is one of the main news items;
- the most commonly presented subject is crime; the services
are all focussed on a single case (78%). In 60% of cases
the elements supplied by the services really contribute
to the knowledge of the facts, but in 22.7% they are of
purely emotional impact, and in 17.5% they are totally
- in 77.8% of cases the language is balanced;
- the images, however, have a documentary function in 77%
of cases, while in 10% of cases they serve to make the
news more spectacular, indulging in the description of
details in almost 30%, and are superfluous and even morbid
in 5.3% of cases;
- on the whole, the information cannot be described as
incorrect and instrumental, but some cases, like that of
Cogne, because of public attention and the "structural" characteristics
of the event, they evidently produced a sort of confusion
as regards the narration of the facts and short circuited
the best intentions. In 71.8% of the newscasts in the month
of February, Cogne was the principle news item; the television
newscasts followed the story step by step, but only in
14.3% of cases was there any really new information given.
In 53.1%, in fact, the people interviewed added nothing;
the language was generally controlled, but there was an
excess of expressive forms typical of story telling, of
narration. The description was informative in 67.9% of
cases, but in 24.4% it evoked suspicions. The fact was
described objectively and with compassion, but it was repetitive
in 61.5% of cases. In the month of February, 38 programmes
giving a more in-depth study or services on the Cogne case
were broadcast, 63% of which gave superfluous elements.
The experts called on gave information that was really
new in less than 30% of cases: the language used, also
in the case of the programmes, was that of story telling:
the event was told objectively in 31% of cases, but the
description was repetitive (52,6%) and emphatic (31.6 %);
- fiction: 9 fiction programmes were analysed ("Dieci storie di bambini", "L'uomo che piaceva alle donne", "Cuore", "Io ti salver÷", "La casa dell'angelo", "Un posto al sole"; "Vento di ponente"; "Incantesimo", "La squadra").
Surprisingly, it turned out that fiction paid great attention
to social matters (immigration, relationships between the
generations, areas in cities for children, and so on, with
the problems well articulated and from an all round viewpoint,
with adequate and correct language and contents.