ReportResearch project

New reports highlight journalists’ ethical challenges in the digital age and need for enhanced dialogue with media councils

The Digilab research group released a report looking at journalists’ perceptions of self-regulation bodies, ethical standards and challenges they face in the digital age. The findings show that more dialogue and awareness is needed to apprehend ethics in today’s journalism.

Digilab collected data on the perception of media councils by working journalists and how they adapt themselves to the challenges in the digital age. More than 400 working journalists from Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland and Spain were surveyed along with 61 board members of media councils in the same nine countries. A data visualisation tool was developed as well as a report.

Most journalists affirm to know the code of ethics existing in their countries

Findings show that for about 30% of journalists surveyed media councils were unknown to them. Although most journalists consider that they have medium or high knowledge of the national code of ethics, this is in sharp contrast with the results obtained among media council members, who consider that journalists have only a limited or medium level of knowledge. The perception of the level of knowledge differs greatly from country to country.

Questioned on the relevance of codes of ethics with regard to digitalisation, members of media councils mostly considered that existing national codes already respond to the new reality (70.7%), while only 33.18% of the journalists shared this view.

Journalists and members of the media councils responded in similar ways to questions regarding day-to-day practices, for example regarding the journalists’ responsibility when using external content in news stories, where both sides agreed that accuracy, quality and legality of linked content must be guaranteed. The report suggests that dialogue between the different stakeholders involved should be encouraged.

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