Public participation and consensual decision-making on the part of all stakeholders (e.g. political institutions and local communities) are presently two of the most shared “leitmotifs” in determining waste thermal power plants locations. Far from assuming deterministic perspectives, a key role is played by the media, whose narrative influence can drive the negotiation strategies between citizens and promoters towards different outcomes. No matter what tag is applied on local controversies and conflicts associated to these projects (i.e. NIMBY, BANANA, LULU, and so on and so forth), research studies that specifically focus on the active role of the media are still few, and especially in Italy. This brief editorial is meant to bring some first empirical evidence to the fore, focusing closely on some parts of an on-going research study on the social impact of the incinerator currently under construction in Turin, Italy. Before getting to the core of our discussion, a quick examination of the Naples waste emergency and its media coverage is required to fully understand why it is so important to study the mass media variable as related to the waste and waste-to-energy issues in Italy. In 2008, during the last national electoral campaign, the photographs of Naples buried under tons of urban waste circled the globe. The challanger, Mr. Berlusconi, a candidate for the right-wing coalition which eventually won the election, used intense television and press coverage to argue that the problem of inefficient waste management could be placed at the doorstep of his opponent Mr. Prodi, whose centre-left government was in office at that moment. Simultaneously, Mr. Berlusconi promoted his own populistic “can-do image”, proposing himself as the leader of a political “action” coalition motivated by pragmatism and efficiency. This led to the promise that, with new landfills and the construction of an incinerator in the city of Acerra (near Naples), the waste emergency would be resolved within six months. As it will be soon clear from the analysis of the empirical documentation, the offerings of traditional media greatly contributed to spreading the idea that incinerators were key for resolving the waste disposal problem. Unexpectedly, after the national election in April 2008, Italian media attention on the issue of waste in general, and the crisis in Campania in particular, diminishes sharply without giving the public any account of the solution, that indeed, unlike what was promised during the campaign promises, never came during the following months. The work demonstrates a highly emphasized and dramatized communication has been set up by the Italian newspapers, which described the Naples’ waste emergency as a “new Chernobyl”, whose solely solution was the incineration with energy recovery, without giving enough space to alternatives. By making the local emergency in Naples a sort of Hirschman’s «catalytic event» nation-wide, mass media have strongly influenced public opinion in a short term perspective, increasing the number of people agreed with waste-to-energy, particularly those with a low cultural profile.

From the Naples emergency to the waste-to-energy miracle. How and why the Italian newspapers coverage of the 2008 waste emergency in Naples influenced local public opinion’s attitude towards a waste-to-energy plant in Turin

TIPALDO, Giuseppe
2012-01-01

Abstract

Public participation and consensual decision-making on the part of all stakeholders (e.g. political institutions and local communities) are presently two of the most shared “leitmotifs” in determining waste thermal power plants locations. Far from assuming deterministic perspectives, a key role is played by the media, whose narrative influence can drive the negotiation strategies between citizens and promoters towards different outcomes. No matter what tag is applied on local controversies and conflicts associated to these projects (i.e. NIMBY, BANANA, LULU, and so on and so forth), research studies that specifically focus on the active role of the media are still few, and especially in Italy. This brief editorial is meant to bring some first empirical evidence to the fore, focusing closely on some parts of an on-going research study on the social impact of the incinerator currently under construction in Turin, Italy. Before getting to the core of our discussion, a quick examination of the Naples waste emergency and its media coverage is required to fully understand why it is so important to study the mass media variable as related to the waste and waste-to-energy issues in Italy. In 2008, during the last national electoral campaign, the photographs of Naples buried under tons of urban waste circled the globe. The challanger, Mr. Berlusconi, a candidate for the right-wing coalition which eventually won the election, used intense television and press coverage to argue that the problem of inefficient waste management could be placed at the doorstep of his opponent Mr. Prodi, whose centre-left government was in office at that moment. Simultaneously, Mr. Berlusconi promoted his own populistic “can-do image”, proposing himself as the leader of a political “action” coalition motivated by pragmatism and efficiency. This led to the promise that, with new landfills and the construction of an incinerator in the city of Acerra (near Naples), the waste emergency would be resolved within six months. As it will be soon clear from the analysis of the empirical documentation, the offerings of traditional media greatly contributed to spreading the idea that incinerators were key for resolving the waste disposal problem. Unexpectedly, after the national election in April 2008, Italian media attention on the issue of waste in general, and the crisis in Campania in particular, diminishes sharply without giving the public any account of the solution, that indeed, unlike what was promised during the campaign promises, never came during the following months. The work demonstrates a highly emphasized and dramatized communication has been set up by the Italian newspapers, which described the Naples’ waste emergency as a “new Chernobyl”, whose solely solution was the incineration with energy recovery, without giving enough space to alternatives. By making the local emergency in Naples a sort of Hirschman’s «catalytic event» nation-wide, mass media have strongly influenced public opinion in a short term perspective, increasing the number of people agreed with waste-to-energy, particularly those with a low cultural profile.
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2194
opposizione alle grandi opere; inceneritori; mass media; analisi del contenuto; emergenza rifiuti; napoli; giornali
Giuseppe Tipaldo
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/2318/91523
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