Authors: Heikkilä, Heikki
Title: Leaving it up to professionals (and the market)
Other Titles: Development of online media accountability practices in Finland
Language (ISO): en
Abstract: Transparency and media accountability have gained more prominence in Finland recently with regard to two main factors: Firstly, the news media have become whistle-blowers with regard to a few political scandals over recent years, which have triggered public debate over the power of media and ethical conduct of journalism. Secondly, controversies have risen with regard to the ‘ownership’ of opinions published on online discussion boards and whether or not these should be submitted to the responsibility of journalists. Even though these themes have captured a lot of public attention, in the context of surveys, the future of journalism and public trust in the news media are not seriously in peril. While citizens in general do not merely use the media but also tend to discuss the news, their role in shaping media accountability practices on the Internet seems limited. Despite the majority of Finns using the Internet on a daily basis, the volume and prominence of media watch-blogs and also attempts to create participatory forms of journalism online have remained scarce. In the absence of a ‘bottom-up’ movement, issues related to media accountability have been taken by traditional institutions of self-regulation: the press council (CMM) and professional organizations supporting the CMM. As a result of their actions, the guidelines of journalists and institutional procedures of the CMM have been updated in order to meet with new challenges. While these attempts tend to draw support from most journalists and citizens in general, there are some signs of differences of opinion about how the Internet is expected to shape journalism and public communication. There is, on the one hand, a strong line of thought that seeks to incorporate online news to the domain of professionalism and self-regulation. On the other hand, the interviews conducted among the Finnish experts signal that the consensus over forms and norms of journalism is not completely harmonious. Rendering news organizations transparent, and enhancing dialogue between producers and users, is endorsed as a principle but the enactment of such practices is not among the primary priorities for media organizations. Nonetheless, relative optimism prevails in that as online journalism is on its way to redeem its status economically as well culturally, this would enable media organizations to launch new practices, including those related to media accountability. This optimism may not be warranted on the basis that online news practices are developed in a strongly competitive market. In this environment, ethical values such as accountability and trust may appear incompatible with short-term economic goals.
Subject Headings: Accountability
Social Media
Subject Headings (RSWK): Finnland
Soziale Software
Issue Date: 2011-06-01
Provenance: MediaAcT/Erich Brost Institute
Appears in Collections:MediaACT

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