How corrupt are the media and journalists

Corrupt journalists? : Why the credibility of the media suffers internationally

54 percent of Germans consider the media to be “corrupt or very corrupt”, Transparency International has just found out in its annual survey. For the first time, the media are worse off than public administration and parliament. In an Allensbach survey, journalists have been in the bad company of politicians and bankers for years, far behind doctors and nurses, teachers and craftsmen who occupy the top positions in the ranking.

Americans, too, complain heavily about the deterioration in performance and the loss of credibility in the media. Almost a third of them, the Project for Excellence in Journalism (PEJ) recently determined, has therefore already changed their news provider. In a previous PEJ study, 80 percent of Americans complained that journalists were often "influenced by powerful people or institutions" and 75 percent complained that they were "unable to report factually". In addition, the Pew Research Center has just carried out a survey on who, from the point of view of the American population, is most likely to make a “contribution to the common good”: The military, teachers and doctors topped this list, with journalists, managers and lawyers at the bottom.

Where does it come from? Certainly because of the upheavals that the internet has brought with it. Since the public have been expecting “everything for free” online and advertisers on Google, Facebook & Co have reached their target groups more precisely than with conventional mass media, the need to save money has become more and more absurd for many editorial offices. Young journalists and freelancers in particular are mercilessly kept short - and depend on additional sources of income in order to survive. There is far less research capacity in the editorial offices than in the past. The daily bombardment of press releases and PR messages that are “pushed into” the media has intensified dramatically. In addition, a gray area has arisen in the run-up to the editorial offices: In many cases, journalism can no longer be clearly delimited from public relations because freelancers work in both areas. And clever PR strategists force the "old" mass media to report in their own way - for example with the help of "guerrilla marketing", in which they use bloggers and social networks in cyberspace to set topics that the still more influential traditional media finally have to take up.

Presumably, the loss of credibility of journalism is also due to the fact that journalists like to measure with two different standards: they demand accountability and transparency from others at all times; when it comes to one's own business conduct, however, it is precisely these virtues that are lacking. A large-scale comparative research project headed by Susanne Fengler (TU Dortmund) has investigated the question of how journalists view their own misconduct in twelve European and two Arab countries. The recently presented results are very illuminating in their ambiguity.

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