Quality journalism in times of crisis: An analysis of the evolution of the European reference press (2001-2012)

TitleQuality journalism in times of crisis: An analysis of the evolution of the European reference press (2001-2012)
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Ramirez de la Piscina, T., M. González Gorosarri, A. Agirre, E. Jimenez, A. Aiestaran, and B. Zabalondo
Affiliation (1st Author)Titular Professor. UPV/EHU University of the Basque Country
Section or WGJournalism Research and Education Section
DateThurs 27 June
Slot CodeJRE T4c
Slot Code (Keyword)JRE T4c
Time of Session16:00-17:30
Session TitleQuality and Quantity Indicators: Two sides of the story Across Themes: Professional Journalism, International Perspectives & Quantifying Methods
Submission ID5293

This work analyses the evolution of the quality of the news in the main European reference newspapers over a period between 2001 and 2012. According to a report by the German consulting group IMH (Internationale Medienhilfe), the five most influential newspapers from the old continent are: The Financial Times, Le Monde, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Corriere della Sera and El Pais. All of these have decades of experience behind them and sales of between 350,000 and 700,000 copies a day. Furthermore, they have all experienced or are experiencing serious economic problems derived from the current economic and financial crisis. These newspapers form the basis of our analysis in this research. The most recent investigations within the field of communication research have provided abundant data about new media tools and formats and their communicative possibilities. However, there has been little research into both the quality of journalism in general (quality journalism), and the quality of the information specifically (news quality). The most recent, such as that carried out in July 2012 by Penny O'Donnell at Sydney University (Journalism at the speed of bytes. Australian newspapers in the 21st century), alerts us to the dramatic consequences which the immediacy demanded by new technologies is having on news quality. In the current context, it appears crucial to establish verifiable and quantifiable parameters capable of determining, with at least some rigour, what the quality of a specific piece of news is. This work, therefore, has a direct relationship with the fourth theme recommended by the JRE section (Methods for Quantifying Professional Journalism). The research team has used its own analysis method, one which, on the basis of the concept of media performance developed by Denis McQuail (1992), makes it possible to use transversal parameters to evaluate news quality. The method used provides numerous data both about the format quality of the item analysed (technical, aesthetic and functional aspects, among others), and about its quality index, precisely evaluating the selection and elaboration processes of the news item, together with its contribution to society. The results of this current research provide numerous data which invite reflection. The crisis in the print media strikes directly at news quality. The striving for speed is damaging truthfulness, which, in turn, could widen the gap between citizens and the major mass media. This research shows that evaluating news quality is not only possible, but absolutely necessary.

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