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Back to the future From the state of the art to new theoretical concepts in media accountability research By Stephan Russ-Mohl & Colin Porlezza Session.

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Presentation on theme: "Back to the future From the state of the art to new theoretical concepts in media accountability research By Stephan Russ-Mohl & Colin Porlezza Session."— Presentation transcript:

1 Back to the future From the state of the art to new theoretical concepts in media accountability research By Stephan Russ-Mohl & Colin Porlezza Session No. 3 Photo: imago/ecomedia/robert fishman

2 July Main research areas in Media Accountability Established MAI Press Councils Code of ethics Ombudsmen Media journalism Etc. Innovative MAI (Media) Blogs Social media and responsiveness Online comments Impact of MAI on media professionals Changing patterns Changing behavior New analytical and theoretical concepts Media accountability and transparency in the digital age Media Governance Economic theory of media accountability Status quo of MAI National enquiries (mainly in Western democracies) Comparative studies Historic developments Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI

3 July 2013 Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI 3 Status quo of Media Accountability A great deal of studies focus on the history and the status quo of media accountability (e.g. Pöttker/Stark 2003; Baldi/Hasebrink 2007). Several studies have been carried out in established (Western) democracies, where media accountability instruments are, at least, partly existing (e.g. van Krogh 2012). In Mediterranean countries few studies have been carried out (e.g. Alsius 2010). The same applies to Eastern Europe (Wyka 2005) and the Arab world (Hafez 2002). The Asian world as well as the African continent have never been studied systematically. However, some information can be found here: Overall, research on media accountability still focuses on the status quo of Western democracies (or specific accountability instruments), although recently some comparative studies have been carried out. Moreover, the online realm gains attention. Photo: imedia.photobucket.com/user/niirka

4 July Research on established Media Accountability Instruments Source: Most of the national and comparative studies focus on established media accountability instruments and are, for the most part, descriptive: Press councils: investigated mainly in Western Europe (e.g. Puppis 2009; Wiedemann 1992). Code of ethics: comparative studies in Europe and on a broader international level (Hafez 2002; Laitila 1995; Himelboim/Limor 2008) Ombudsmen: national and international enquiries (Elia 2007; Evers et al. 2010; Starck 2010) Media journalism: one of the most investigated fields of research. There are several studies which focus on media journalism in selected countries (Fengler 2002; Krüger/Müller-Sachse 1998; Malik 2004; Porlezza 2005) Until recently, research on media accountability concentrated on established media accountability instruments mainly in Western democracies. But this is slowly changing. Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI

5 July Research on innovative Media Accountability Instruments Source: media.photobucket.com/user/LifeOfLuxury1 Today, the Internet offers endless possibilities of pluralistic and interactive debates about journalism. The body of research is steadily growing, even if innovative and online-based accountability systems have not yet been studied systematically: In their seminal work Domingo and Heinonen (2008) offer a useful classification of media related blogs, grouping them into citizen-, audience-, journalist- and media blogs. Several studies focus on media critique with special regard to blogs (e.g. Eberwein 2010; Fengler 2008; Wied/Schmidt 2008). Other research efforts concentrate on the impact of new and social media on journalism and how they are actually changing editorial practices, particularly in terms of responsiveness (e.g. Bivens 2008; Brants/de Haan 2010). A great deal of attention is also dedicated to transparency and the potential of social media to achieve openness (e.g. Karlsson 2011). Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI

6 July The impact of MAI on media professionals Over the past decade many studies investigated the impact of MAI on media professionals and how they responded to the new journalistic ecosystem as well as the increasing performance pressures in terms of accountability and responsiveness: de Haan and Bardoel (2011 and 2012) studied the developments in Dutch newsrooms in terms of accountability and responsiveness over 20 years, revealing that the debate on media responsibility and accountability clearly has substantiated. Bardoel and DHaenens (2004) provided an overview of new conceptualizations and practices of media responsibility and accountability, showing that the new terms and concepts such as responsibility and accountability are becoming central points of concern within the community. Kepplinger (1993) and Weischenberg/Malik/Scholl (2006) analyzed the characteristics and the impact of criticism among journalists. Source: / Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI

7 July New analytical and theoretical concepts linked to MA Apart from empirical studies several efforts have been made to further develop the analytical and theoretical approaches with regard to media accountability and transparency. Media governance aims at a wider inclusion of civil society to participate in the process of media observation. Definitions: […] we can thus define media governance as the regulatory structure as a whole, i.e., the entirety of forms of rules that aim to organize media systems (Puppis 2010). While media governance certainly allocates a key place to national media or press laws and other relevant legal and constitutional provisions it also refers to numerous forms of management and accountability that operate within the media and to the more or less institutionalized relations that exist between the media and the wider society (McQuail 2007). Overall, the media governance approach seeks a broader balance among all regulatory institutions and the interest of the society as a whole. Source: media-policies-governance.jpg Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI

8 July New analytical and theoretical concepts linked to MA Another theoretical approach uses behavioral economic theories of media accountability and tries to answer the following questions: Why do media pay so little attention to media accountability instruments even if it is in their institutional self-interest? Why have media accountability institutions worked fairly well in some countries, while they are inexistent or ineffective in others? The heuristic approach is particularly fruitful in order to better understand why investments in media accountability serve the institutional, rational self-interests of media companies, and how the under-investment can be explained by predictably irrational behavior Lets take a closer look at the new theoretical perspective of media accountability and behavioral economics Source: 2009_SP_Wordmap.pdf Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI

9 July Media Accountability is paying off It promises the following returns: Ombudsmen and press councils are an insurance policy against more costly, time absorbing risks, reducing costs for legal advice and legal battles. If press councils and ombudsmen communicate effectively, they foster the relationship with readers, they increase journalisms credibility, and they educate journalists as well as publics about journalism and the media. By improving recipients quality consciousness, they may increase their willingness to pay. Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI

10 July Why do media companies invest so little in Media Accountability? The answer of classical economic theory: A rational, self-interested choice for more accountability will be made if it pays off. Unethical behavior will increase if it significantly reduces the cost of production (potential premium), if the probability to get caught is low, and if the potential sanctions are not too drastic (Entorf/Spengler 1998: 348). Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI

11 July Four immediate answers Conflict of interest between the institutional and the personal self-interests of media executives - they simply may not want to become victims of scandalization. Relationships between media executives and press councils or ombudsmen are principal-agent-relationships. Media executives may mistrust whether ombudsmen, press councils or media journalists might abuse their positions as agents. Media executives find themselves in a prisoners dilemma. If competitors dont follow suit, they could put themselves in jeopardy as the full benefits of accountability policies will primarily materialize when investments are shared. In media conglomerates flagships in the upper market segment are subsidized by cash cows in the lower segment. The overarching institutional interests of the conglomerate will weigh out the institutional interests of the fewer media in the upper market segment. Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI

12 July Media executives behaving predictably irrational By rationalizing under-investment in media accountability, media executives become victims of selective perception and cognitive dissonance neglect of probability the dynamics of markets for lemons overconfidence effect and control illusion loss aversion the endowment effect Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI

13 July 2013 Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI 13 Neglect of probability If you are not Rupert Murdoch, the risk of being scandalized as media executive by other media is low – even if media journalism would be expanded and would work well. Source: Scandal! News International and the Rights of Journalism:

14 July 2013 Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI 14 Zero cost craze If one does not invest in media accountability, this implies zero cost at first glance – and all of us tend to behave irrationally if we can get hold of a freebie (Ariely). However, this enjoyment rarely works in the long run - the hidden costs of lawsuits as well as a decrease in recipients willingness to pay coincide with the benefits of zero cost. Markets for Lemons Media executives in the upper quality segment have to work against the dynamics of markets for lemons (Akerlof). In markets for lemons, buyers are either unaware of quality differences, or unable to judge quality differences in products or services. Sellers who want to continue to produce and provide high quality products need to develop specific strategies to communicate the high quality of their offerings in order to justify the higher price.

15 July 2013 Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI 15 Overconfidence effect and control illusion Top editors are unaware of their own limits in handling errors and conflicts adequately and with a certain distance. They underestimate the time needed for mediating and for coaching their staff. Illustration: Dobelli, Rolf Die Kunst des klaren Denkens. Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag

16 July 2013 Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI 16 Loss aversion The concept may also be applied to the loss of power: Introducing an ombudsman and accepting a press council means for media executives the sharing of responsibility in defining ethical standards. Losing individual power may be irrationally perceived as riskier than the chance to gain credibility, reputation and status by cooperative action with accountability institutions. Illustration: Dobelli, Rolf Die Kunst des klaren Denkens. Munich: Carl Hanser Verlag Loss Gain

17 July Endowment effect and rational ignorance (Kahnemann et al.1991 ; Downs 1957) Media executives may overvalue existing routines which have become a kind of social capital and are therefore difficult to change or abolish (endowment effect). As long as publics dont actively demand more accountability and transparency, media executives will continue to neglect for themselves what they increasingly demand from others: transparency. If they get away with it, this may also be seen as rational ignorance. Illustration: Dobelli, Rolf Die Kunst des klaren Denkens. 52 Denkfehler die Sie besser anderen uberlassen. Munich: Carl Hansen Verlag Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI

18 July Reciprocity (Trivers 1971) A form of irrational behavior which most media executives are quite rationally aware of: Reciprocity applies to favors as well as to attacks. In every branch the unwritten law exists: Hawks will not pick out hawks eyes. Therefore, media journalism is played low key. Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI

19 July Herd Behavior Creates a strong momentum in media industries and newsrooms – media executives become victims of groupthink and social proof in their behavior towards media accountability. Danger: Collective suicide, if the herd is heading towards the abyss… Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI

20 July Herd Behavior Examples United States – Frequent corrections columns, weakly institutionalized press councils and strongly institutionalized ombudsmen may be due to the New York Times as cheerleader of the media. Italy – Low investment in accountability needs to be seen in a larger context: problematic legal system, corruption, public interest is not appreciated, little consciousness of or interest in public space. Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI

21 July References I Ariely, D Predictably Irrational. New York: Harper Collins. Akerlof, G The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism. The Quarterly Journal of Economics 84(3): Baldi, P. and U. Hasebrink. (Eds.) Broadcasters and Citizens in Europe: Trends in Media Accountability and Viewer Participation. Bristol: Intellect Books. Bardoel J. and L. dHaenens Media responsibility and accountability: New conceptualizations and practices. Communications 29: 5– 25. Bivens, R. K The Internet, Mobile Phones and Blogging. How New Media are Transforming Traditional Journalism. Journalism Practice 2(1): Brants, K. and Y. de Haan Taking the Public Seriously: Three Models of Responsiveness in Media and Journalism. Media, Culture & Society 32(3): Domingo, D. and A. Heinonen Weblogs and Journalism: A Typology to Explore the Blurring Boundaries.Nordicom Review 29(1): Downs, A An Economic Theory of Political Action in a Democracy. Journal of Political Economy 56(2): Eberwein, T Von "Holzhausen" nach "Blogville" - und zurück. Medienbeobachtung in Tagespresse und Weblogs. In Journalismus und Öffentlichkeit. Wiesbaden, edited by Eberwein, T. and D. Müller, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Elia, C Vierzig Jahre Presseombudsmann: Wer sind die Leserschaftsanwälte und wie kommunizieren sie? Eine vergleichende Analyse. Zeitschrift für Kommunikationsökologie und Medienethik (1): Entorf, H. and H. Spengler Die Ökonomik der Kriminalität: Theoretische Hintergründe und empirische Evidenz. WiSt 27(7): Evers, H.,, H. Groenhart, and J. v. Groesen. (ed.) The newsombudsman: watchdog or decoy? Diemen: AMB Publishing. Fengler, S Medienjournalismus in den USA. Konstanz: UVK. Fengler, S Media WWWatchdogs? Die Rolle von Blogs für die Medienkritik in den USA. In: Journalismus online - Partizipation oder Profession?, edited by Quandt, T. and W. Schweiger, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Fengler, S. and S. Russ-Mohl Journalists and the Information-Attention Markets: Towards an Economic Theory of Journalism. Journalism 9(6): Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI

22 July References II de Haan, Y. and J. Bardoel From Trust to Accountability: Negotiating Media Performance in the Netherlands, European Journal of Communication 26(3): de Haan, Y. and J. Bardoel Accountability in the Newsroom: Reaching out to the Public or a Form of Window Dressing? Studies of Communication Sciences 12(1): Hafez, K The unknown desire for "objectivity": journalism ethics in Arab (and Western) journalism. In: Arab media: power and weakness, edited by Hafez, K., New York: Continuum. Himelboim, I. and Y. Limor Media perception of freedom of the press: a comparative international analysis of 242 codes of ethics. Journalism 9 (3): Kahnemann, D., J.L. Knetsch, R.H. Thaler The Endowment Effect, Loss Aversion and Status Quo Bias. Journal of Economic Perspectives 5: Karlsson, M The Immediacy of Online News, the Visibitlity of Journalistic Processes and a Restructuring of Journalistic Authority. Journalism 12(3): Kepplinger, H. M Kritik am Beruf. Zur Rolle der Kollegenkritik im Journalismus. In: Journalisten in Deutschland, edited by Mahle, W. A., München: Ölschläger. van Krogh, T Understanding Media Accountability. Sundsvall: Mid Sweden University. Krüger, U. M. and K. H. Müller-Sachse Medienjournalismus. Strukturen, Themen, Spannungsfelder. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag. Laitila, T Journalistic codes of ethics in Europe. In: Communication theory & research, edited by McQuail, D., P. Golding, E. de Bens, London etc.: Sage. Malik, M. 2004: Journalismusjournalismus. Funktion, Strukturen und Strategien der journalistischen Selbstthematisierung. Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. McQuail, D The Current State of Media Governance in Europe. In: European Media Governance: National and Regional Dimensions, edited by Terzis, G., Bristol: Intellect Books. Porlezza, C Zwischen Selbstbeweihräucherung und Konkurrenzkritik. Medienjournalismus in der Schweiz – drei Fallstudien.Medienwissenschaft Schweiz 1: Pöttker, H. and K. Starck, Criss-Crossing Perspectives: Contrasting Models of Press Self-Regulation in Germany and the United States. Journalism Studies 1: Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI

23 July References II Puppis, M Organisationen der Medienselbstregulierung. Europäische Presseräte im Vergleich. Köln: Herbert von Halem Verlag. Puppis, M Media Governance: A New Concept for the Analysis of Media Policy and Regulation. Communication, Culture & Critique 3(2): Shoemaker, P. and S. D. Reese Mediating the Message: Theories of Influences on Mass Media Content. 2 th Edition. White Plains: Longman. Starck, K The news ombudsman: viable or vanishing? In: Journalismus und Öffentlichkeit, edited by Eberwein, T. and D. Müller, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Trivers, R The Evolution of Reciprocal Altruism. The Quarterly Review of Biology 46(1): Weischenberg, S., M. Malik and A. Scholl Die Souffleure der Mediengesellschaft. Report über die Journalisten in Deutschland. Konstanz: UVK. Wied, K. and J. Schmidt Weblogs und Qualitätssicherung. Zu Potenzialen weblogbasierter Kritik im Journalismus. In: Journalismus online - Partizipation oder Profession?, edited by Quandt, T. and W. Schweiger, Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften. Wiedemann, V Freiwillige Selbstkontrolle der Presse. Eine länderübergreifende Untersuchung. Gütersloh: Verlag Bertelsmann Stiftung. Wyka, A. W Good and reliable watchdogs of democracy? Ethics and journalism: case studies from Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. Frankfurt am Main: eumap.org. Session 3 - State of the art and economic theory of MAI


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