For Italians, the medium is changing the message. Social-networking websites have emerged as an alternative to an information industry long tied to the government, political parties and industrialists.
It’s not that Italians don’t enjoy freedom of expression. The problem is that until recently there haven’t been many outlets where they could effectively exercise it. Newspapers are generally tied to political parties or industrial concerns, resulting in a press that seems less written for the general public than for politicians and other insiders. But most striking is Berlusconi’s domination of the airwaves. In a country where 80% of people get their news from television, he owns the three biggest commercial stations and maintains influence over the three public channels (RAI among them), whose governing boards are appointed by the state.