LIFE/Hannah Williams: American Politics in Italy


I think it might be impossible to escape Donald Trump. I thought moving to Italy during the American primary elections and caucuses would protect me from the constant bombardment of news about his latest comments, Bernie Sanders’ most recent declarations, or Mrs. Clinton’s forced smiles, but it seems like everywhere I turn people are still concerned with American Politics. Don’t get me wrong, I think politics are infinitely important for a country, but the way the media has taken to covering them is a perfect example of how skewed they are, both at home and here in Viterbo. From what I can tell, the major Italian newspapers cover just as much of the elections as the major American ones. It’s incredible to me that I can be sitting in a bar more than 4,000 miles from New Hampshire and still get asked what I think about this candidate or that one; especially because I couldn’t tell you anything about Italian politics.

The day after the primary vote in New Hampshire the politics headline in La Repubblica read “La rivincita di Sanders e Trump Hillary, in crisi il modello Clinton,” (the revenge of Sanders and Trump Hillary, crisis in the Clinton model,) when the New York Times published an article saying “White House Hopefuls Trump, Sanders Capture New Hampshire.” The italian newspaper highlights the loss of Clinton in its headline, while the American one ignores it this time, and both use captivating language about how the victories were powerful statements for the candidates. No matter your political standing, paying attention to the way news is released is one of the most important things you can do, like noticing that the La Repubblica puts Sanders before Trump and the New York Times doesn’t.

In another big italian newspaper, Il Corriere Della Sera, published a headline saying that the candidates that won New Hampshire were the ones “anti-systema,” and in the American Wall Street Journal they titled their primary headline “Trump Wins Big In New Hampshire Primary.” Both show a specific point of view of the newspaper, but at least the one in Italy ecompasses both winners instead of just the Republican one. The bias of newspapers both here and at home is usually pretty apparent, and I’ve noticed it coming out more and more since the primaries have been underway back home.  These biases, while impossible to escape, are something to think about whether you’re reading news here or there, and they’re especially important to pay attention to if you’re trying to follow the news in another language like I am. Either way, the presidential elections and the way they’re covered in both countries seem to be a huge deal, and I’m getting pretty tired of seeing any American candidates face everywhere I look.

I love real newspapers, I wish they were still the most popular form of breaking information in the United States, but I can’t deny that reading a newspaper today seems tedious. TusciaUp and TusciaWeb have a good idea going, with clear headlines and organized sections of news; I just wish I could read the Italian it’s all written in.

My name is Hannah Williams, and I’m an American student from California and Colorado. Viterbo is a big city compared to my hometowns, and I love the language, food, and culture of the ancient community. I speak Spanish and am here to learn to speak Italian, as well as write, read, and understand the beauty of my favorite Romance language. I have worked for multiple magazines and newspapers through my home university, Humboldt State University, and I spend my days managing a band, studying words, and eating all the time.