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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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12. Media Accountability in Transition: Survey Results from Jordan and Tunisia: Judith Pies



Chapter 12

Media Accountability in Transition:Survey Results from Jordan and Tunisia

Judith Pies1

Comparing Jordan and Tunisia with a number of European countries poses the challenge of not stepping into the ‘cultural trap’ when explaining the differences by referring to them as a result of the ‘Arab culture’. The revolution in Tunisia gave us the chance to compare the two countries with each other and with their European counterparts from another, more inspiring perspective: what can our comparative research tell us about journalism and media accountability in transitional countries?

When the protests in Tunisia and Egypt started they were given little attention in the local media. News about the ongoing revolutions was mainly communicated via personal communication, social media networks (SMN), such as Facebook and Twitter, mobile phones or transnational satellite channels, such as Al-Jazeera or Al-Arabiya, and this is why the role of SMN during the revolutions gained much attention in the Western mass media as well as in academia. The other, less attractive side of the story was revealed blatantly in Egypt, when the state TV came under siege by protesters both before and after Mubarak’s downfall. This violent action showed very explicitly that traditional local journalism had largely failed to meet the expectations of major parts of society. It is most likely that, in the coming years, journal ← 193 | 194 → ists in these ‘fresh’ transitional countries, such as Tunisia and Egypt—but also in the ‘stuck’ transition countries...

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