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Second meeting: MediaAcT participants talked about theories – and mosquitoes

Tartu with its cute old centre and its surrounding green hills seems to be the secret capital of thousands of mosquitoes. Here in South-Estonia about 30 MediaAcT researchers from twelve countries came together for their second project meeting in June 2010 to discuss theoretical approaches to media accountability. For four days, the researchers discussed various theories applicable to media accountability issues, thus creating a basis for their joint research efforts and for their first empirical study, which is looming ahead next year.

In their theoretical workshop, the MediaAcT team members reconsidered ideas of media transparency and the public sphere and explored an axis model for classifying media accountability instruments. A systems-theoretical view on media accountability was presented by introducing the ideas of the German philosopher and sociologist Niklas Luhmann. Another accent was laid on economic perspectives on media accountability: The participants looked at a motivation model for being accountable and examined ways to manage conflicting stakes in media accountability. As MediaAcT also focuses on innovations in the digital age, the researchers discussed the role of technology and social networks on transparency and the meaning of contexts in measuring online innovations.

Scott Maier, a member of the MediaAcT advisory board, shared insights into his empirical work in the United States. According to him, a fresh assessment of media accountability systems seems to be needed in the U.S. Since credibility drops measurably with each error, in his eyes corrections, for example, could also function as an instrument for media accountability. “Admit mistakes – and correct them promptly”, Maier suggested.

In addition, the project "MEDIADEM", which has started in Athens last week, was presented during the workshop. The MEDIADEM researchers will analyze media policies in 14 countries. They seek to understand the factors that influence the development of policies for independent media. The MEDIADEM project coordinator, Evangelia Psychogiopoulou from Greece, is also a member of the MediaAcT advisory board.

Apart from the fruitful and intense discussions at “Domus Dorpatensis”, the MediaAcT members had a city walk through the ancient parts of Tartu and – thanks to the Estonian team from “Tartu Ülikool” – spent their evenings together in some cozy and typical Estonian restaurants and bars in and around the second-biggest city of Estonia, where more than 100.000 inhabitants live. One highlight certainly was a barbecue-event on a scenic Kure (stork) tourism farm. Some more impressions from the stay in Tartu can be found in the "MediaAct flickr stream".

The next MediaAcT meeting will take place in Wroclaw in Poland in February 2011, where the methodological design of the forthcoming field study will be discussed.

Andreas Sträter

MediaAct News – June 18, 2010

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About MediaAcT

MediaAcT is a comparative research project on media accountability systems in EU member states as indicators for media pluralism in Europe.

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Funded by the EC

Project funded under the Socio-economic Sciences and Humanties

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