Autonomy is a crucial component of journalistic work. How does it vary in different organisations and across countries? The article by Henrik Örnebring, Johan Lindell, Christer Clerwall and Michael Karlsson, all of Karlstad University, examines experienced workplace autonomy.
The authors did an email survey in the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, Sweden and Estonia, basing their findings in 2238 responses. They use principal component analysis to examine the dimensions of autonomy.
What creates the perception of autonomy? Workplace hierarchies or the lack of them create the most variance in journalists’ views, the authors write. Workplace hierarchy is the intervening factor between institutional and individual autonomy, affecting for example, how external factors such as commercialisation affect individual tasks of journalists.
Country and organisational levels are the most notable explanations for differences in autonomy. Journalists in countries where there is a strong public service ethos (e.g. Sweden and Germany) feel more autonomous than their colleagues in more commercialised media systems (e.g. United Kingdom). Age, experience, gender, managerial role and medium have only limited effects, if any.
The article “Dimensions of Journalistic Workplace Autonomy” was published in Javnost – The Public and is available online (free abstract).
Picture: hierarchy by David Salafia, license CC BY-ND 2.0