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Press councils as a traditional instrument of media self-regulation: The perceptions of European journalists

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Press councils are among the traditional self-regulatory instruments present in most European countries and, as a part of a wider network of accountability systems, need to be analysed and evaluated. This article presents part of the results of a cross-national European project studying journalism, ethics and regulating systems, and focuses on the opinion of journalists from twelve European and two Arab Mediterranean countries regarding the perceived impact of press councils as instruments of self-regulation, compared with other traditional mechanisms. The study was conducted with a quantitative approach: an online questionnaire was administered to 1762 journalists, and data were analysed by using the SPSS software (significance set at <0.05). The sample was selected based on several criteria to achieve representative national sub-samples. The journalists’ answers about the perceived impact of different regulatory and self-regulatory instruments are analysed. Press councils are seen as having a mid-range perceived impact when compared with the other instruments. Journalists from the countries where press councils have been in place for a long time perceive the impact of these instruments to be higher, with the exception of the United Kingdom, a country that was a pioneer in the consolidation of press councils. Middle-aged, male and lower-income journalists attribute the lowest impact to press councils.
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Keywords: Europe; accountability; ethics; journalism; press councils; self-regulation

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) 2: Blanquerna School of Communication and Public Relations, Ramon Llull University ()

Publication date: July 1, 2018

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