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Ethics and Credibility in Danish Journalism Mark Blach-Ørsten Roskilde University.

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Presentation on theme: "Ethics and Credibility in Danish Journalism Mark Blach-Ørsten Roskilde University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ethics and Credibility in Danish Journalism Mark Blach-Ørsten Roskilde University

2 Ethics and Credibility in Danish Journalism Why study ethics and credibility? • Because in the network society “only the media,(…), are plausible rivals to the state”. (Couldry: 2003,672). • In order to act in the role of ‘fourth estate’ the media need to maintain a high level of credibility amongst users, politicians and others.

3 Ethics and Credibility in Danish Journalism Credibility in many shapes and forms, but often linked to questions of accuracy, fairness, ethics, and balance. “The sources survey method (…) remain the most accepted and trusted of all accuracy studies” (Silverman, 2007: 69).

4 Ethics and Credibility in Danish Journalism A brief history of accuracy studies using the source survey method (Silverman, 2007): 1936 – 46 % of local newspaper stories contained an error 2005 – 61 % of all of all stories in the selected newspapers contained an error – 30 % error rate in television news 2004 – 35 % error rate in television news

5 Ethics and Credibility in Danish Journalism • Quality in journalism as a matter of ethics and credibility. • Two analysis: - Journalistic credibility evaluated by journalistic sources - Journalistic ethics evaluated by journalists themselves.

6 Analysis of sources: Background information • Questionnaire-based survey of sources that have participated in news articles and news reports in week 46, 2011 in national broadsheet newspaper + online newspapers (Berlingske, Jyllands-Posten and Politiken), local newspaper (Folketidende and Nordvestnyt) and national television (DR and TV 2). • The questionnaire was distributed to 906 sources in the period 13th-21st February • When the collection of responses was completed 13th March 2012 had 596 sources responded, of whom 95 per cent had answered all the questions in the questionnaire. Altogether it makes a response rate of 66 per cent. • 547 sources confirmed that they had been interviewed by a journalist from the media, in which the article or feature was published in. It is the responses of these 547 sources, the analysis is based on. • The 547 sources break down as follows: 57% from national newspapers, 19% from regional newspapers, 17% from national TV and 7% from the national newspaper’s online papers.

7 Sources about ethics and credibility in Danish journalism Objective errors: • Only 13% of the sources experiencing concrete and factual errors in articles and features (15.3% in 2006) Subjective errors: • 79% do NOT feel that the journalist has left out important information or quotes

8 Sources about ethics and credibility in Danish journalism • 45% found errors in the article / feature when they had quotes for review • 67% believe that news is often influenced by the media’s own opinion on the subject

9 Are there concrete factual errors in the article / feature? N= Objective errors:

10 Objective errors: Yes, there are concrete, factual errors in the article / feature

11 Subjective errors: Has the reporter left out information or quotes in the article / feature, that in your opinion would have been important to get in?

12 Subjective errors: Yes, the reporter has left out important information or quotes

13 Check of the quotes: Were there errors or mistakes in the quotes when you got them for review?

14 Check of the quotes: Yes, there were errors or misunderstandings in the quotes when I got them for review

15 Statements about the article / feature in its entirety: Fully or partially agree that the article / feature is influenced by the media’s own opinions and views

16 Statements about the article / feature in its entirety: Fully or partially agree that the article / feature is good journalism

17 General statements about Danish journalists and Danish media: The news that the news media bring, are generally very reliable

18 General statements about Danish journalists and Danish media: News is often influenced by a particular political philosophy

19 Background information on the analysis about journalists and ethics: Which media are the respondent working for? Berlingske17,0% Jyllands-Posten18,7% Politiken15,7% Folketidende3,0% Nordvestnyt7,2% DR17,0% TV 221,3% In total305

20 Journalists about ethics and credibility in Danish journalism • 83% do on a daily or weekly basis reflect on the ethics of their own work (82% in 2006) • 61% discuss on a daily or weekly basis ethics with their colleagues (50% in 2006)

21 Journalists about ethics and credibility in Danish journalism • 76% find on a daily or weekly basis examples of bad ethics in the Danish press (69% in 2006) • 58% believe that the most common reason to compromise on ethics is a lack of time or competition with other media

22 Knowledge of media ethics: Are you familiar with the guiding rules for the ethics of journalism? Broadsheet newspapers Local newspapers Online newspapers Public service televisionIn total Yes94,2 %81,8 %91,3 %90,9 %90,5 % No2,9 %13,6 %4,3 %3,0 %3,6 % Do not know2,9 %4,5 %4,3 %6,1 %5,9 %

23 Knowledge of media ethics: Are you familiar with your own media’s independent guidelines for journalistic ethics? Broadsheet newspapers Local newspapers Online newspapers Public service televisionIn total ● Yes87,5 %36,4 %82,6 %87,9 %81,4 % ● No8,7 %22,7 %8,7 %3,0 %8,3 % ● The media does not have independent guidelines 0,0 %27,3 %0,0 %1,5 %3,3 % ● Do not know3,8 %13,6 %8,7 %7,6 %7,0 %

24 The extent of the problems with journalistic ethics:

25 The extent of the problems with journalistic ethics: At my work, I find examples of bad journalistic ethics Broadsheet newspapers Local newspapers Online newspapers Public service televisionIn total Daily1,0%0,0% 1,5%0,7% Weekly15,4%13,6%8,7%12,1%12,5% Monthly27,9%31,8%26,1%37,9%31,1% Semiannually31,7%22,7%26,1%28,8%28,6% Annually8,7%13,6%26,1%16,7%14,3% Never5,8%4,5%4,3%0,0%3,9% Do not know9,6%13,6%8,7%3,0%8,9%

26 Reflection and debate about journalistic ethics:

27

28 The reason for poor ethics: According to your opinion, what is the most common reason that a journalist may have to compromise on journalistic ethics?

29 Ethics and Credibility in Danish Journalism • Few errors in articles / features and clear ethical awareness among journalists • No 'decay' from 2006 to 2011 • BUT… • Many sources find errors in the article / feature - some errors get corrected • Much debate about ethics - but not with the management • Pressure of time and competition are challenges for ethics (and credibility) • News is (often) marked by the media’s own opinion about the subject / the media political standpoint.


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