The University of Zurich’s Forschungszentrum öffentlichkeit und Gesellschaft (Fög) has published the Media Quality Yearbook 2022, which also features the study on the media market in the Swiss Italian-speaking region, co-edited by Colin Porlezza , professor at USI Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society , and Linards Udris , researcher and lecturer at the University of Zurich.
The study aims to investigate changing media structures and focuses on the particular challenges that small media markets, such as the one in Southern Switzerland, face, for instance, limited advertising and audience markets, factors that make media financing more difficult.
The media landscape in the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland has changed significantly in recent years, mainly due to economic pressure. New, more robust and broader circulation-oriented newspapers have emerged, resulting in the withdrawal of more traditional ones. In addition, some online providers have also entered the market. However, the economic situation of newspapers in the region remains complex, and the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated the already complex financial condition of the media.
The long-term analysis shows that the overall quality remains relatively steady on average. The media quality in such a small region is similar to that in larger language regions. Changes in quality are observed concerning the individual dimensions, which are an expression of changes in the general framework of structural conditions. The pandemic has impacted certain spheres or subject areas: for example, the media cover more politics and fewer sports and human interest issues. In this context, local and cantonal politics is increasingly in the foreground at the expense of foreign media coverage. At the same time, national political coverage saw a marked increase in 2020, most likely due to the pandemic, but overall remains relatively stable.
On the bright side, editorial contributions related to the Italian-speaking region of Switzerland are steadily increasing, i.e. the use of agency contributions is less frequent. Despite the media market’s precarious financial situation, the media’s quality can still be assessed positively. However, a closer look reveals some early cracks, such as the disappearance of classic titles, layoffs, or increasing concentration in the market. Therefore, the cantons should be bold in engaging in a policy debate on the issue of media funding. Canton Graubünden has already taken the first steps in this direction, while the discussion in Canton Ticino is still in its early stages. Although Ticino’s media are currently managing to stay afloat, the question is how much longer they will be able to do so without affecting the quality of their offerings.
The complete study is available at the following link: https://www.foeg.uzh.ch/de/jahrbuch-qualit%C3%A4t-der-medien/vertiefungsstudien.html