Ethics and Credibility in Danish Journalism Mark Blach-Ørsten Roskilde University 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. 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). 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. 1999 – 30 % error rate in television news 2004 – 35 % error rate in television news 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. 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 2012. • 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. 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 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 Objective errors: Are there concrete factual errors in the article / feature? No 84.3% Yes, my name is misspelled 2.8% Yes, the information about my title, my work or my age is wrong 3.7% Yes, other personal information about me is wrong Yes, there are other types of factual errors Do not know 0.9% 6.7% 2.8% 0.0% 10.0% 20.0% 30.0% 40.0% 50.0% 60.0% 70.0% 80.0% 90.0% N= Objective errors: Yes, there are concrete, factual errors in the article / feature 23.1% 11.3% 10.4% 7.7% Broadsheet newspapers Local newspapers Public Service television Online newspapers 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? No Yes Do not know 78.6% 11.6% 9.8% Subjective errors: Yes, the reporter has left out important information or quotes 18.7% 14.4% 9.5% 2.6% Broadsheet newspapers Local newspapers Public Service television Online newspaper Check of the quotes: Were there errors or mistakes in the quotes when you got them for review? 43.0% 36.3% 6.7% 12.6% 1.5% Yes, and they Yes, but they Yes, but they were rectified were not were not when I pointed rectified even rectified since I it out to the though I did not point it journalist pointed it out out to the to the journalist journalist No Do not remember Check of the quotes: Yes, there were errors or misunderstandings in the quotes when I got them for review 48.2% 44.4% 25.0% 20.0% Broadsheet newspapers Local newspapers Public Service television Online newspaper 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 25.6% 19.4% 18.4% 16.5% Broadsheet newspapers Local newspapers Public Service television Online newspaper Statements about the article / feature in its entirety: Fully or partially agree that the article / feature is good journalism 69.1% 66.0% 63.2% 62.2% Broadsheet newspapers Local newspapers Public Service television Online newspaper General statements about Danish journalists and Danish media: The news that the news media bring, are generally very reliable 50.2% 18.7% 17.9% 7.6% 3.1% 2.5% Fully disagree Partially disagree Neither agree nor disagree Partially agree Fully agree Do not know General statements about Danish journalists and Danish media: News is often influenced by a particular political philosophy 40.5% 23.3% 15.6% 10.9% 5.5% 4.2% Fully disagree Partially disagree neither agree nor disagree Partially agree Fully agree Do not know Background information on the analysis about journalists and ethics: Which media are the respondent working for? Berlingske 17,0% Jyllands-Posten 18,7% Politiken 15,7% Folketidende 3,0% Nordvestnyt 7,2% DR 17,0% TV 2 21,3% In total 305 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) 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 Knowledge of media ethics: Are you familiar with the guiding rules for the ethics of journalism? Broadsheet newspapers Local newspapers Online Public service newspapers television Yes 94,2 % 81,8 % 91,3 % 90,9 % 90,5 % No 2,9 % 13,6 % 4,3 % 3,0 % 3,6 % Do not know 2,9 % 4,5 % 4,3 % 6,1 % 5,9 % In total Knowledge of media ethics: Are you familiar with your own media’s independent guidelines for journalistic ethics? Broadsheet newspapers 87,5 % Local newspapers 36,4 % Online newspapers 82,6 % Public service television 87,9 % ● No 8,7 % 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 know 3,8 % 13,6 % 8,7 % 7,6 % 7,0 % ● Yes In total 81,4 % The extent of the problems with journalistic ethics: I find examples of bad journalistic ethics in the Danish press 51% 46% 24% 25% 24% 18% 2% Dagligt Ugentligt Månedligt 4% Halvårligt 2012 0% 1% Årligt 2006 4% 0% 0% Aldrig 0% Ved ikke The extent of the problems with journalistic ethics: At my work, I find examples of bad journalistic ethics Daily Weekly Monthly Semiannually Annually Never Do not know Broadsheet Local Online newspapers newspapers newspapers 1,0% 0,0% 0,0% 15,4% 13,6% 8,7% 27,9% 31,8% 26,1% 31,7% 22,7% 26,1% 8,7% 13,6% 26,1% 5,8% 4,5% 4,3% 9,6% 13,6% 8,7% Public service television 1,5% 12,1% 37,9% 28,8% 16,7% 0,0% 3,0% In total 0,7% 12,5% 31,1% 28,6% 14,3% 3,9% 8,9% Reflection and debate about journalistic ethics: We discuss journalistic ethics at editorial meetings at my workplace 45% 30% 9% 8% 2% Dagligt Ugentligt Månedligt Halvårligt Årligt 3% 4% Aldrig Ved ikke Reflection and debate about journalistic ethics: I discuss journalistic ethics with the management at my workplace 29% 29% 24% 22% 20% 16% 13% 13% 11% 10% 8% 3% 3% 0% Dagligt Ugentligt Månedligt Halvårligt 2012 Årligt 2006 Aldrig Ved ikke 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? Lack of time to complete the work 32.9% Competition with other media 25.1% Other 16.5% Pressure from editorial director or other management 14.3% Do not know 6.9% Competition among journalists inside the workplace 4.3% 0.0% 5.0% 10.0% 15.0% 20.0% 25.0% 30.0% 35.0% 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.