Interviews: Between traditional and new media accountability institutions
In addition to the publication of MediaAcT's national reports concerning innovative forms of media accountability, the research consortium conducted several online interviews with media experts and practitioners. Some excerpts from these interviews are now available on the MediaAcT website. Daniel C. Hallin, Paolo Mancini and Ognian Zlatev talked about the role of the Internet as a tool for supporting accountability and transparency in contemporary media structures at the last MediaAcT workshop in Wroclaw, Poland.
All interviewees were asked three questions:
- What are the problems of existing media accountability institutions?
- How can the Internet improve media accountability?
- What needs to change in the media and society for this to happen?
Responding to the questions, the media researchers and professionals discussed the whole range of issues related to traditional notions of media accountability (question 1) as well as the influence of the Internet and new communication technologies on the shape and development of new forms of accountability and transparency of the media (questions 2 and 3).
Daniel C. Hallin, University of California and co-author of "Comparing Media Systems. Three Models of Media and Politics", stressed that traditional and formal instruments of media accountability, such as press councils, do hardly exist in the United States. On the contrary, informal instruments predominate in the country. However, the growing economic pressure on the media is to some extent changing this situation. People have just started to realize that it may be useful to introduce some formal instruments in order to balance the adverse effects of economic pressure in the United States.
In addition to this, Paolo Mancini, University of Perugia and co-author of "Comparing Media Systems. Three Models of Media and Politics", highlighted the fact that the Internet significantly increases the degree of audience control over the content of media messages. In fact, members of the audience are able to verify the authenticity of the major part of the received information themselves. They can also react when noticing mistakes. It also definitely affects the behaviour of journalists in this regard.
In turn, Ognian Zlatev, Managing Director of the Media Development Center Bulgaria, board member of the National Council for Journalism Ethics of Bulgaria, member of the Managing Board of Bulgarian National TV, focused on the question of responsibility of the media in the Balkan region. He noted that traditional instruments of media accountability have been developed there only in recent years (mostly thanks to the involvement of international institutions and their assistance). Media accountability instruments are therefore being developed simultaneously with the online tools. This situation is different in Western Europe. In the Balkans’ context, the role of the Internet may be promoting the idea of accountability and transparency of media in society. Ognian Zlatev regards it as essential in this part of the world.
Finally, Adam Szynol, University of Wroclaw, former journalist, underlined that the main problem of mass media in Poland is connected to diversity of levels of responsibility. In his opinion, the level of responsibility depends on the type of the medium and its reach. Generally, Polish media has still much work to do, in terms of encouraging and managing feedback from their audiences.
Text: Michael Kus and Michael Glowacki, Photo:
The interviews were recorded and edited with significant help from Sylwia Gazda, Monika Choluj (Telewizja Dolnoslaska), Adam Szynol, Bronislaw Bubiak (University of Wroclaw), Bogdan Bugajski, Borys Niespielak, Michal Bernardyn and Dariusz Lechanski (University of Lower Silesia, Wroclaw).
MediaAct News – August 23, 2011