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Journalists and Media Accountability

An International Study of News People in the Digital Age


Edited By Susanne Fengler, Tobias Eberwein, Gianpietro Mazzoleni and Colin Porlezza

Media accountability is back on the political agenda. Debates about the phone-hacking scandal at Rupert Murdoch’s News of the World have shown that the need for free and responsible journalism is more pressing than ever. Opinions, however, differ on the measures that need to be taken. Do existing structures of media accountability – such as press councils, codes of ethics, and ombudspersons – suffice, or do we urgently need new instruments and initiatives in today’s converging media world?
These questions were tackled in an international survey of 1,800 journalists in twelve European and two Arab states conducted by the EU-funded research project, «Media Accountability and Transparency in Europe» (MediaAcT). The results provide a solid empirical basis for the discussions taking place. This book advances research on media accountability and transparency, and also offers innovative perspectives for newsrooms, media policy-makers, and journalism educators. Its systematic comparative design makes it an unprecedented venture in international journalism studies.
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4. Counting Media Accountability—the Concept and Methodology of the MediaAcT Survey: Tobias Eberwein, Susanne Fengler, Susan Philipp & Maryam Ille



Chapter 4

Counting Media Accountability—the Concept and Methodology of the MediaAcT Survey

Tobias Eberwein, Susanne Fengler, Susan Philipp & Maryam Ille

How do journalists across Europe and beyond value the impact of different instruments of media self-regulation and accountability? Are they accepted and cherished within the profession—or do they need to be scrutinized and reformed in order to leave a distinct mark in the discussion about journalistic quality and responsibility? When the multinational MediaAcT consortium set out to discuss these and similar questions in 2010, it soon reached a consensus about the need for a comparative survey of journalists to provide a solid empirical basis for finding answers. With the help of an initial status quo analysis, based on desk studies, it described a multifaceted and heterogeneous system of media accountability instruments (MAIs) in the 14 European and Arab countries that are part of the MediaAcT project, also highlighting a range of structural deficits that are inherent in the practices of traditional MAIs such as press and media councils, ombudspersons, media journalism and the like (see Eberwein, Fengler, Lauk and Leppik-Bork 2011 as well as Chapter 2 in this book). Qualitative interviews with almost 100 experts in the field also demonstrated the potential of web-based processes of media accountability and the particular advantages they convey in those countries without a long tradition of media professionalism and self-regulation (see Heikkilä, Domingo, Pies, Głowacki, Kuś and Baisnée 2012 as well as Chapter...

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