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ARTICLE: Limited freedom causes journalists to doubt objectivity

Untitled by MarkoLovric, licence CC0 1.0

The less free a society is, the less likely journalists are to subscribe to the importance of detached and objective reporting, write Yigal Godler, of both Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University of Negev, and Zvi Reich, of Ben-Gurion University of Negev. The authors analysed survey data from 62 countries, collected for the Worlds of Journalism study, and compared it to other data on the countries.

The authors were interested in the effects of societal freedom (as indicated by scores from various organisations, such as Freedom House), commercialism (as indicated by the percentage of ad revenues received by journalistic organisations), and professional autonomy (as indicated by the respondents’ own estimates).

Godler and Reich’s analysis indicates that all aforementioned qualities correlated negatively with how important the journalists saw objective and detached reporting. “[..][W]ith scarcity in freedom also comes perverse conceptions of knowledge and facts”, the authors conclude. Conversely, increasing journalists’ freedom may help foster “healthier” epistemological attitudes, Godler and Reich suggest.

The article “News Cultures or ‘Epistemic Cultures’?” was published by the journal Journalism Studies. It is available online (abstract free).

Picture: Untitled by MarkoLovric, licence CC0 1.0.

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