Keywords: Electoral Campaign; Newspapers; Agenda Setting; Public Opinion; Perception.
The article focuses on the 2018 electoral campaign's coverage provided by newspapers and on their role in the process of setting the agenda of the public debate. Two main questions led the authors' work: has there been a correspondence between newspapers' coverage of the electoral campaign and voters' perception? In the light of the peculiarities that historically characterize the Italian media system, are newspapers still able to interpret and describe the contemporary political debate? To answer to these questions two types of data have been analyzed: the first is the result of an analysis of the press coverage of the electoral campaign, the second comes from a «rolling cross-section» conducted during the recent Italian general elections. As for the coverage, the research provides a comparison between national and local newspapers. Findings demonstrate that in an environment characterized by media abundance and a fragmented public sphere, the «old rules» of Italian journalism, in particular self-referentiality and niche audience, produced a disconnection between newspapers' agenda and the public one.