Czech journalists’ views on selected aspects of the Czech media environment

Conducted in: 2012

A total of 566 respondents answered the electronic survey in June, which represents 22% of the 2,577 invited active Czech journalists.

Key findings

Negative factors influencing the quality of media output

  • Seventy percent of the respondents believe the main negative impact on media quality is the low level of expertise among journalists. This self-critical voice was louder than those decrying such external factors as pressure from advertisers (67%), senior editors (64%) or media owners (59%). Low ethical standards of journalists were mentioned by 60% of the respondents as an issue influencing the current quality of Czech media. The survey shows that journalists perceive pressure from politicians and government officials as much less important than pressure from businesses.
  • The pressures journalists face at work stem mostly from senior editors for economic reasons (75%), as well as from the low level of expertise (77%) and low ethical (67%) standards of journalists. Sixty-five percent of the responding journalists personally experienced pressure from senior editors concerning the styling (tenor) of texts, compared with 49% faced with similar pressures from PR agencies, 46% from advertisers and 33% from media owners. Although journalists personally experience pressure from PR agencies as often as from advertisers, they see pressure from advertisers as having a more important negative impact on the quality of the media.
  • Eighty-two percent of respondents view an invitation to a press conference that includes the opportunity to take part in a ski trip as a gift, while 81% think the same of an invitation to an international football match, and 73% think the same of winning a camera in a raffle at a press conference. Most respondents know quite well about the trickiness of accepting gifts as the reporter’s independence is at stake.
  • Forty-two percent of the journalists polled flatly declined to accept gifts. The matter is more complicated for the others. A moderate majority replied that their reaction depends on the value of the gift, the circumstances of the donation and the reason behind it.
  • Seventy-one percent of the respondents say their editorial office adopted rules of approach to “motivational” offers from companies or PR agencies. The question still remains as to why almost half of the respondents are unsure and answer “somewhat agree.” Some journalists believe their publication has some kind of rules but are not familiar with them.
  • According to the respondents, the most frequent providers of gifts are firms in the tourist industry, followed by pharmaceutical and telecommunications companies, makers of branded consumer goods, banks and insurance companies; automotive and IT companies are a little less generous. Government institutions occupy the other end of the spectrum.
  • The reporters’ views concerning gifts and their effects are quite polarized. The answers to two key questions, i.e. “gifts, or no gifts?” and “to what extent do gifts affect the Czech journalist community?” are split almost exactly into two groups: Nearly half of the respondents decline gifts, while a slight majority claims it depends on how much, from whom and for what reason. Similarly, almost half of the reporters believe gifts do influence most of them, and the other half considers them as a minority phenomenon.
  • Answering the question concerning the least ethical practices of PR agencies, the winner was surprisingly the request to send the story or report for pre-print approval (64%), followed by phone queries about whether and when the reporter will publish (54%), while a mere 30% considered offers of gifts as the least ethical practice.

Kontakt: Gabriela Bechynská

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