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Journalists and Media Accountability

An International Study of News People in the Digital Age

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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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7. More Accountability in the Digital Age? The Influence of New Technologies: Wayne Powell & Mike Jempson

Introduction

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Chapter 7

More Accountability in the Digital Age? The Influence of New Technologies

Wayne Powell & Mike Jempson

“Media accountability in whatever form it comes must balance the rights of the individual and the community and the rights of the press to free expression,“ according to Aidan White, when General Secretary of the International Federation of Journalists. “Traditional models of accountability often applying different models of regulation for press and broadcasting are rendered obsolete by the online world and convergence.”

Addressing an international gathering of his colleagues in 2009, White offered a compelling account of the purpose of media accountability instruments from the perspective of the working journalist:

“1. To advocate journalistic independence and media freedom in society;2. To promote the right of the public to be informed;3. To campaign for conditions that will enable journalists to serve their public better;4. To foster better understanding within society at all levels about the role played by independent journalism in democratic life;5. To support journalists in their work and to encourage professional solidarity;6. To mediate complaints from the public in a transparent service, free of charge and to provide remedies for unethical conduct by journalists;7. To help build trust between journalists and the public to ensure that media can resist political and economic pressure.” (White 2009)

This definition provides a useful context in which to examine the results of the MediaAcT survey of journalists’...

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