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Slide 1 - 50th anniversary A case study 3 European perspectives in tv news Thornborrow, Haarman and Duguid In Bayley and Williams (ed) OUP
Slide 2 - The Anniversary in Italy Framing The news presenter’s (NP) introductory framing of the news item describes the event as a ‘historic occasion’, the celebration of the anniversary of the treaty of Rome which began European unification, but which must be set against the context of the recent ‘no’ vote for the Constitution in France and the Netherlands. The NP quotes President Napolitano saying that Europe must ‘overcome its current institutional deadlock’.
Slide 3 - The Anniversary in Italy Focusing The focusing phase of the report consists of three different elements: an interview with Napolitano and two separate reports. The interview is formal both in setting and structure: it is filmed in medium/long shots with the interviewer and interviewee facing each other obliquely across a grand, baroque fireplace and mantelpiece, there are set-piece questions and answers, and no spontaneity in the interaction between interviewer and interviewee.
Slide 4 - The Anniversary in Italy Focusing contd. Next follow the separate reports, one focusing on the celebrations, Celebrazioni in Italia e ovunque in Europa (‘Celebrations in Italy and everywhere in Europe’), the other focusing on the current problems with the constitution, introduced with a quote from Prodi: entro il 2009 rilanciare la Costituzione dell'Unione, ha detto Prodi (‘by the end of 2009 re-launch the EU Constitution, Prodi said’).
Slide 5 - The Anniversary in Italy Focusing contd The focus of the first item consists of the reporter foregrounding the historical significance of the event, while on screen we see shots of participants at a table set for a banquet, an art exhibit, then segments of formal speeches by two LPs (Presidents of Senate and of the House of Representatives) praising the original treaty as la più rilevante evoluzione politica e istituzionale dell'epoca contemporanea (‘the most significant political and institutional development of our time’).
Slide 6 - The Anniversary in Italy The focus in the second report is oriented towards current problems and future needs, the reporter underlines that behind the rhetoric of the occasion there is a discourse ‘of hopes, of will, of strategies to bring, concretely, Europe’s institutions closer to its citizens’:   (43) C'è un po'di retorica che in una occasione come questa fa bene alla memoria e poi un fitto intreccio di speranze, di volontà, di strategie, quell'avvicinare concretamente l'Europa delle istituzioni ai cittadini. (RAI, 23 March 2007) There’s a little bit of rhetoric [here] that on an occasion like this is good for jogging the memory, and then a complex tale of hopes, of intentions, of strategies to bring, concretely, Europe’s institutions closer to its citizens.
Slide 7 - The Anniversary in Italy The report concludes with Prodi’s exhortation to re-launch the European constitution, followed by an exchange between the reporter and Massimo D’Alema (then Foreign Affairs Minister) introducing a question raised in the preceding interview with President Napolitano concerning a potential negative American reaction to such a strong Europe.
Slide 8 - The Anniversary in Italy Each section of this item can to some extent be seen as a frame for the next: the presidential interview constructs the formal ceremonial frame for the report on its historical significance, which in turn frames the report on the need to resolve the current crisis and produce a strong Europe.
Slide 9 - The Anniversary in Italy Throughout the reports, we hear a number of intensifiers and superlative evaluations in the reporter’s framing of events and actions: the anniversary is una pagina storica (‘a historic page’) in the history of Europe, la piu rilevante evoluzione (‘the most significant development’) in contemporary European politics. There is un grande bisogno (‘a great need’) to resolve the current problem, and the Italian government is fortemente impegnato (‘strongly committed’) to that resolution.
Slide 10 - The Anniversary in Italy Realisation The realisation elements of the item reinforce these ceremonial framings: the splendour of the 50th birthday celebrations are emphasised through the visuals, first in the baroque elegance of the setting for the presidential interview (the Quirinal palace in Rome), then scenes of preparation for the ceremonial dinner and a close-up of an art exhibit.
Slide 11 - The Anniversary in Italy Realisation The visual shots of the speeches are also very formal: the speakers stand and read from a script. There is a predominance of long shots and quick scene changes, foregrounding the setting, distancing the viewer from the substance of the verbal track (Selby and Cowdery, 1995: 57).
Slide 12 - The Anniversary in Italy Realisation In terms of the voices presented in this report, we hear only those of the political elite: Italy’s President, Prime Minister and other high ranking politicians give their views on Europe in formally structured interviews, in speeches, or in reporters’ use of quotes. Ordinary people are neither seen nor heard, nor are any of the 116 representatives of the EU either interviewed or even named.
Slide 13 - The Anniversary in Italy Realisation The RAI news coverage thus unfolds as an Italian celebration of Europe, presented in its institutional garb of pomp and circumstance, with prestige LP interviews visually reinforced with the splendour of the setting.
Slide 14 - The Anniversary in Italy Realisation As we have seen, however, the item also repeatedly problematises the future of the EU by referencing the present as a punto morto (‘standstill’) a negative moment in the history of the Union, and foregrounds the need to move forward from this current state of deadlock. The closing sequence of the item reprises two previous topics, America’s reaction to a strong Europe, and Prodi’s reference to the Constitutional Treaty signed in Rome in 2004.
Slide 15 - The Anniversary in Italy Realisation The coda to this item thus contributes to the overriding sense of the history and grandeur of the occasion, while posing two tangential questions regarding the urgency and importance of consolidating and strengthening Europe.
Slide 16 - The Anniversary in France Framing FR3 handles the event rather differently. Each of its three news items (spread over three days, a total of 8 minutes 5 seconds) is framed in much more personalised terms, compared to the formal, institutional framing of RAI. The news presenters introduce the reports as a series of ‘portraits’ of three people who ‘embody’ the idea of Europe
Slide 17 - The Anniversary in France Framing The news presenters introduce the reports as a series of ‘portraits’ of three people who ‘embody’ the idea of Europe: a Spanish director of the Association des Parents d’Elèves (‘Parent/Teachers Association’) of the Lycée Français in Madrid, a German history teacher, and Robert Schuman, one of the political founding fathers of the European Union,:
Slide 18 - The Anniversary in France Maria Jesus, une Espagnole qui avait fui son pays sous le franquisme et qui est revenue quand l'Espagne a adhéré à la Communauté Européenne (FR3, 19 March 2007) Maria Jesus, a Spaniard who had fled the country during Franco’s reign and returned when Spain joined the European Community.
Slide 19 - The Anniversary in France le portrait d'un professeur d'histoire vivant à Berlin, il est né en mille neuf cent cinquante sept, comme le traité, et il a vécu très intimement la séparation des familles berlinoises éparpillées de part et d'autre du mur. (FR3, 22 March 2007) The portrait of a history teacher living in Berlin, he was born in 1957, year of the treaty, and experienced personally the separation suffered by the families in Berlin living on either side of the wall
Slide 20 - The Anniversary in France Cet anniversaire commémore la naissance de la Communauté économique, mais l'histoire de l'Europe est antérieure, née de la volonté de pères fondateurs comme Robert Schuman. Sa maison de Scy-Chazelles, près de Metz, vient d'être classée patrimoine européen. (FR3, 23 March 2007) This anniversary commemorates the birth of the economic community, but the history of Europe goes back further, coming from the wishes of the founding fathers, like Robert Schuman. His house in Scy-Chazelles, near Metz, has just been named a European heritage site.
Slide 21 - The Anniversary in France The focusing stage of each report contains a reporter’s voiceover, commenting on the historical relevance of each individual. Maria Jesus is a ‘convinced European’, working in the Lycée Français where young Spanish students can learn English or German as well as French. Christian is a history teacher who was separated from his grandmother in the east by the Berlin Wall, while the voice of Robert Schuman, described as ‘a Luxembourgeois with both French and German culture’, is heard coming from a radio in his home at Scy-Chazelles, a village in Lorraine.
Slide 22 - The Anniversary in France All three of these focusing stages contain a reference to conflict and war: for Christian, it is his childhood experiences of the Cold War, histoire banale et tragique d'un enfant de la guerre froide, qui est devenu historien pour conserver la mémoire (‘the banal and tragic history of a child of the cold war, who became a historian to keep the memory alive’), while for Schuman, it is the first and second world wars which are evoked in the reporter’s voiceover text describing the region, cette Lorraine si longtemps déchirée par les guerres (‘Lorraine, a region torn apart for so long by wars’). The Spanish civil war and Franco’s dictatorship are also evoked in Maria-Jesus’ story.
Slide 23 - The Anniversary in France In the visual realisation of the first two stories, we see shots of the protagonists at their place of work, in their homes, and we hear their voices, speaking directly to camera about their experiences. Maria Jesus tells of her return to Spain after it joined the EU, emphasising her bi-cultural ‘European-ness’. Christian’s talk and the Spanish Grandmother’s talk is translated in voiceover from German to French
Slide 24 - The Anniversary in France Realisation We see her with her mother and her son (also bi-lingual) recounting the improvements of life in Spain since 1985. The grandmother tells how: sous Franco, on ne pouvait pas parler, on ne pouvait pas s'exprimer. Et moi j'ai été exclue de l'école parce que j'étais la fille d'un rouge (‘under Franco, we couldn’t speak out, express ourselves. I was excluded from school because I was the daughter of a “red”.’), while the son explains that with the opening up of the borders in 1985: on a commencé à voir qu’on n'était pas seul (‘we began to see we were no longer on our own’).
Slide 25 - The Anniversary in France In the reporter voiceover for history teacher Christian, there are two mid shots of him at the Berlin Wall then teaching a class at his school, where he presents the first German/French history textbook. Next we see him at home, a close up of the stairs where a cat is sitting, the camera panning along first a picture then a wall of books, while the reporter voiceover explains that while this history is now a peaceful one, it is Christian’s childhood walks along the Berlin wall that have forged his vocation as a teacher.
Slide 26 - The Anniversary in France Realisation The visual/verbal synchrony is striking here, we see a wall of books, we hear nourrie de nombreux ouvrage (‘nourished by many works’); the camera travels along the wall to Christian at his desk, we hear: ce sont les promenades de l'enfance le long du mur qui ont forgé sa vocation (‘it is his childhood walks along the wall that forged his vocation as a teacher’). This shot is followed by archive footage of guards and the wall during the cold war, interspersed with shots of Christian telling how, when he was a child, his mother used to take him to wave at his grandmother on the other side.
Slide 27 - The Anniversary in France The realisation stage of Schuman’s ‘portrait’ is comprised of shots of his house and garden, still photographs of Schuman in the garden which are interspersed with archive footage of him at work as a politician, and then a midshot of his friend, biologist Jean Marie Pelt, sitting at the kitchen table describing Schuman:
Slide 28 - The Anniversary in France (Jean Marie Pelt, biologist and friend of Schumann) Il aimait beaucoup la nature, il était sobre, et il avait au fond une sorte d'image d'écologiste avant la lettre. Quand il quittait le ministère des finances, bien après tous ses collaborateurs, il faisait le tour de tous les bureaux, il éteignait toutes les lumières et il reprochait à ses collaborateurs de gaspiller (FR3, 23 March 2007) He loved nature, he was austere, and deep down he was a sort of ecologist ante litteram. When he left the Finance Ministry building , long after his colleagues had gone home, he would do the rounds of all the offices and switch off the lights and would reproach them for waste .
Slide 29 - The Anniversary in France Here too, the relevance of the past to the present is foregrounded, Schuman’s personal concerns about wasting energy have become the political issues of the present. In all three reports, the focusing elements compare the problems and conflicts of the past with a peaceful and collective present: the students at the Lycée Français learn several languages; students in the German classroom use a joint history book, and the house in war-torn Lorraine is now a peaceful national European heritage site celebrating the bi-cultural Schuman.
Slide 30 - The Anniversary in France Unlike the Italian TG1 report, which ends with a question expressing concern for the future, all three of these news items have very clear codas, each with a strong affirmative message. The portrait of Maria Jesus ends with her comment that it would be more difficult for a dictator to gain power, now that Spain is in Europe. The coda implies that a politically and economically united Europe is a defence against fascism, des nostalgiques du fascisme (‘those still nostalgic for the fascist regime’).
Slide 31 - The Anniversary in France In the portrait of Christian, the coda contains the same implicit message: we see him leaving his study and switching off the light, while in reporter voiceover we hear that: pour rien au monde, Christian ne voudrait manquer ce rendez-vous. (‘Christian wouldn’t miss this party for the world.’
Slide 32 - The Anniversary in France The Schuman portrait ends with a reference to his historic plan for Europe, and the visual track follows the voiceover, it is the house near Metz where he continued to find peace and serenity, and where he died in 1963. The symbolic peace and serenity of Schuman’s house in Lorraine for so long a region of bitter strife, is highlighted for the viewer.
Slide 33 - The Anniversary in France These three items produce a strong message about Europe’s troubled history, a history that the existence of the EU will prevent from repeating itself. Bi-cultural identities are foregrounded in each one, where Europeans stand together in the fight against fascism and communism, and where East and West are reunited.
Slide 34 - The ‘Birthday’ in the UK The BBC1 report of the 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2007 is very different again in both style and tone from the news reports on TG1 and FR3. In the first place it is very short, lasting only 2 minutes and 10 seconds, compared to 6 minutes in Italy, and 8 minutes for the three separate reports over three days in France.
Slide 35 - The ‘Birthday’ in the UK Secondly, its production style is almost in the form of pastiche. Framed by a visual on-screen background of a blue birthday cake with a single burning candle and revolving golden stars to symbolise the EU (Figure 3.4), and a brief introductory question: now, it is fifty years since the treaty which led to the birth of the European Union was signed in Rome. But is it a happy birthday? The news presenter then hands over to BBC’s Europe Editor Mark Mardell whose report makes up the remainder of this short news item.
Slide 36 - The ‘Birthday’ in the UK The reporter’s focusing of this news item is interwoven with realising elements, in the form of statements from vox and visuals, creating a stylistic pastiche. There is marked synchronisation of meaning between the verbal and the visual scripts:
Slide 37 - The ‘Birthday’ in the UK Mardell is first seen at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin,­ stating that people are revving up for a party while the visuals show a motorbike driving past, and some men setting up sound system equipment on an outdoor stage. This is followed by archive footage of a parliamentary setting, and a hand signing what we assume to be a page of the Treaty, while in voiceover Mardell describes this moment as the birth of a controversial club.
Slide 38 - The ‘Birthday’ in the UK Compared to the Italian reference to the Treaty of Rome as ‘the most significant political and institutional development of our time’ and the French portraits of embodied Europeans, this description of Europe as a controversial club hasnegative connotations of exclusivity (rather than collectivity). The sequence ends with the camera panning back from a close up of the glass case containing a large volume (we infer this to be the Treaty itself), to reveal Mardell standing behind the case, leaning on it, and in a facing shot to camera he asks another question: But does it work?
Slide 39 - The ‘Birthday’ in the UK The evaluation contained in this sequence is far removed from the discourses of pomp and ceremony present in the Italian representations of the ‘historic occasion’; and from the discourses of European peace and unity foregrounded in the French reports. The sceptical tone of the framing and focusing sequences produced by the two questions, is it a happy birthday? and does it work? is further developed out in the next part of the report, where we hear a number of vox opinions interspersed with voiceover commentary.
Slide 40 - The ‘Birthday’ in the UK The realisation of the report in terms of its visuals and its voices forms a sequence which is repeated for three countries (Germany, Italy and Denmark). We first see a postcard with the name of a city (Rome, Copenhagen, Berlin) arrive onto the screen, against a background of the European flag. This is followed by a close up of a plate of food (a chef cooking spaghetti, some meat and potatoes on a plate, some food from a mobile kiosk in a carton).
Slide 41 - The ‘Birthday’ in the UK Then we hear a male vox opinion, followed by a female vox opinion; all are young adults and all are filmed in talking-head close up shots (Selby and Cowdery 1995: 48-51). In this highly patterned sequence, we are given the views of six Europeans, two from each country, with some positive opinions about the EU and some not so positive. These views stand as putative answers to Mardell’s focusing question, but does it work?
Slide 42 - The ‘Birthday’ in the UK Finally, there is a clear message in the coda to this item. We see Mardell back at the Brandenburg Gate, talking directly to camera, describing the EU now as a unique experiment and ending with the following comment and sign off:   And when the twenty seven leaders come here, they will find it easy to celebrate its past, but much more difficult to decide upon its future. Mark Mardell BBC News Berlin. (BBC, 23 March 2007)
Slide 43 - The ‘Birthday’ in the UK The doubts raised throughout the report are reinforced in this unequivocal coda. The two parallel, contrasting comparative phrases easy to celebrate its past, much more difficult to decide upon its future imply that these birthday celebrations are all very well, but that the EU is a deeply problematic institution whose future is uncertain.
Slide 44 - The ‘Birthday’ in the UK Compared to the RAI report, where a ‘strong Europe’ is seen as necessary, if currently problematic, and the positive messages expressed in the FR3 ‘portraits’ about the benefits of belonging to Europe for peace and prosperity, the BBC report takes a much more negative and sceptical stance.
Slide 45 - The ‘Birthday’ in the UK Europe is presented as elsewhere: we see and hear Danish, Italian and German vox, but not British. The celebrations are reported on from Berlin, Copenhagen and Rome, but not London. The identity of Europe, as it emerges in this report, is thus constructed as separate from the UK, with Mardell looking in on celebrations that do not involve British citizens in any way.
Slide 46 - The anniversary Semantic fields Another contrast between reports of the anniversary in the three nations can be found in the semantic fields drawn upon to represent concepts related to being European. In the next sections, we examine the different fields of meaning each broadcaster uses to represent key features of European identity.
Slide 47 - France: Solidarity and togetherness we find a number of positive expressions of solidarity and togetherness, realised by references to a shared bi-cultural identity. The examples below are taken from all three ‘portraits’: (Maria Jesus) J'ai aussi la culture d'autres pays (FR3, 19 March 2007) I also have the culture of other countries Expérience allemande, expérience européenne (FR3, 22 March 2007) German experience means European experience le premier livre d'histoire franco-allemand commun (FR3, 22 March 2007) the first franco-German history book ce luxembourgeois de naissance à la double culture allemande et française Luxembourg born, with dual French and German culture (FR3, 25 March 2007) un établissement où de jeunes espagnols poursuivent leur scolarité en français et s'initient à l'anglais ou à l'allemand (FR3, 19 March 2007) a school where young Spaniards study in French and learn either English or German
Slide 48 - France: Solidarity and togetherness The positive aspects of sharing a common European history, and the value of being bi- or tri-cultural as well as lingual, are foregrounded in these reports. Whether in the context of education (the Lycée Français in Madrid, the Franco-German history book), or through personal life histories (the case of Robert Schuman and Maria-Jesus), being European in all three news items involves a shared culture, set against the negative divisions and wars of the past. It is perhaps worth noting that in these reports, French identity is always one of the dual cultures, again contributing to the point that being French and being European is homologous.
Slide 49 - Italy: Institutions In contrast to the personal and narrative focus of the French items, the RAI report is both verbally and visually centred on institutions. From the events portrayed in the Italian Presidential Palace, to Parliament, to the palatial seat of the city council (Campidoglio) where the Treaty was signed, and with the exception of a brief shot of the banquet, all participants are shown acting in their institutional roles. Verbal references to the institutions as political entities accompany and elaborate on the images, without there being a referential fit between them.
Slide 50 - Italy: Institutions Hence the frequency of expressions referring to the strength and authority of the EU: autorità europee (‘European authorities’), le più alte autorità italiane (‘the highest European authorities’), l’Europa delle istituzioni (in context, ‘European institutions’), lancio costituzionale europeo (‘launch of the European constitution’), elezioni europee (European elections), futura politica europea (‘future European policy’), Ministro degli esteri europeo (‘European Foreign Minister’), modello di Europa così forte (‘such a strong version of Europe’), Europa unita e capace di prendere le proprie responsabilità (‘a Europe united and capable of taking responsibility’), etc.
Slide 51 - Italy: Institutions The reference to institutions is moreover closely linked with positive evaluations of a political nature: e.g., the treaty was la più rilevante evoluzione politica e istituzionale dell’epoca contemporanea (‘the most important political and institutional development in the contemporary era’); there is a great need for giustizia sociale, solidarietà e pace, (‘social justice, solidarity and peace’). The predominance of the institutionally oriented discourse which pervades the item at all levels is predictable and consistent with what we have seen so far in the Italian approach to European news coverage.
Slide 52 - UK: Food In terms of the register in which it is delivered, the BBC item is different again from the Italian and French reports. As we noted above, the report is a highly stylised pastiche in that it draws upon various discourses, the effect of which is to distance the UK from Europe, where the celebrations are going on. The semantic field of food contributes to this, from the framing image of the birthday cake (see Figure 3.4] and the NP’s introduction with its pun on the word sample: Well our Europe editor Mark Mardell has been to sample opinion in some of Europe's capitals (BBC, 23 March 2007)
Slide 53 - UK: Food However, in contrast to the scenes of the formal ceremonial dinner table we saw in the realisations of the Italian report, the food here is banal and everyday. The reporter voiceover accompanies visuals of people buying food at a takeaway stand in Berlin (free beer and sausages), cooking pasta in Rome (many see the EU as much a part of their life as pasta for lunch) (Figure 3.4) and being served food in a canteen in Copenhagen (some in Denmark have little appetite for the EU).
Slide 54 - BBC stance Because of its style, which is produced through the juxtaposition of graphics (the cake, the postcards of each city, and the EU flag), with shots of scenes in restaurants and on the street that provide the context for the vox opinions, the puns which link the visual and verbal texts, and its brevity, the BBC’s treatment of this event is downplayed. In comparison to the solemn treatment it is given in Italy and the focus on embodied European identities in France, British audiences are presented with a distancing and sceptical picture of European identities, in this report of a party at which they are spectators rather than participants.
Slide 55 - BBC stance In comparison to the solemn treatment it is given in Italy and the focus on embodied European identities in France, British audiences are presented with a distancing and sceptical picture of European identities, in this report of a party at which they are spectators rather than participants.
Slide 56 - A little background about the BBC’s European reporting helps to contextualise this difference. Some two years previously, the BBC had been criticised for its perceived ‘Europhile’ bias in TV reporting of the EU, and in January 2005, the independent panel which had been set up to investigate these claims published its report. The panel found that although the BBC was not guilty of systematic bias, it had nevertheless been getting things wrong in several ways.
Slide 57 - They were critical of the BBC’s methods for monitoring impartiality. This, they claimed, had led to an institutional bias in the reporting of EU affairs and resulted in ‘the voices of Britain not being heard.’ They also accused the BBC of an over-simplification of the issues and stereotyping, of seeing the EU through a Westminster prism, and finally, of ignorance and omission with regard to the functioning of the EU and the reporting of issues which have ‘a considerable domestic impact’ (Wilson et al, 2005: 8).
Slide 58 - In response to these criticisms, in May 2005 the BBC announced the appointment of Mark Mardell to the post of ‘Europe Editor’. The reporting of the 50thAnniversary is in many ways indicative of this new approach, characterised by what has been described as Mardell’s ‘lightness of touch and wit’. BBC Director of News Helen Boaden said in a press release that the new role was ‘designed to enhance the audience's understanding of the European Union and its institutions, to focus on the evolving role and nature of the EU and what it means for the UK.’ In the same press release, acknowledging the perceived challenges in making EU affairs interesting for British TV audiences, she also said that ‘Mark brings great depth of knowledge, tremendous energy and a rare lightness of touch and wit to all of his journalism […] he has exactly the skills to engage our audiences in this vitally important but difficult area.’ (BBC Press Release 2005).