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Profile and activity of newspaper ombudsmen: an international overview. The News Ombudsman today and tomorrow ONO annual conference Stockholm, May 29, 2008. Cristina Elia European Journalism Observatory Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland.
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Profile and activity of newspaper ombudsmen:an international overview The News Ombudsman today and tomorrowONO annual conferenceStockholm, May 29, 2008 Cristina Elia European Journalism Observatory Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano, Switzerland
WHO: ombudsmen who have been appointed voluntarily by newspapers in the • European sphere • Anglo-Saxon sphere • Latin Sphere • WHEN: data collected May – June 2006 • WHY: to have introductory empirical data on the state of the art of the profession at an international level • LIMITS: questionnaire • COMPARISON WITH PAST STUDIES: Ettema & Glasser, Papirno, Nemeth • ADVANTAGES: provide the context, compare different realities, identify trends INTRODUCTION & INTERNATIONAL OVERVIEW
Questionnaire response rate: 57% INTRODUCTION & INTERNATIONAL OVERVIEW
Profile Similarities: • 9 ombudsmen out of 10 are former journalists • 9 ombudsmen out of 10 work for just one newspaper (exception: Switzerland) • There are differences in other variables: • Age: Europeans are noticeably older (year of birth, mean: 1940) • Gender: gender equality is reached only in the Anglo-Saxon sphere. Evolution of the Anglo-Saxon sphere in the last 20 years: 1985 2006 PROFILE& COMMUNICATION
% ofemployment Anglo-Saxon sphere European sphere Latin sphere PROFILE& COMMUNICATION
Visibility / communication with the public European sphere Columns Anglo-Saxon sphere Latin sphere Latin & Anglo-Saxon spheres: good visibility European sphere: room for improvement (more than 20% do not write a column, lower frequency) PROFILE& COMMUNICATION
Visibility / communication with the public European sphere • meetings with community groups (visibility) Anglo-Saxon sphere Latin sphere PROFILE& COMMUNICATION
Visibility / communication with the public PROFILE& COMMUNICATION
New technologies Number of e-mails per day PROFILE& COMMUNICATION
Presence in the newsroom / communication with journalists PROFILE& COMMUNICATION
European sphere • Participation in newsroom meetings Anglo-Saxon sphere Latin sphere PROFILE& COMMUNICATION
Self-assessment and possible improvements • Authority European sphere Anglo-Saxon sphere Latin sphere SELF-ASSESSMENT& IMPROVEMENTS
Self-assessment and possibleimprovements • Independence European sphere Anglo-Saxon sphere Latin sphere SELF-ASSESSMENT& IMPROVEMENTS
Self-assessment and possible improvements • Visibility European sphere Anglo-Saxon sphere Latin sphere SELF-ASSESSMENT& IMPROVEMENTS
Self-assessment and possibleimprovements Possible improvements (chosen from 20 possible changes) • Do more reader outreach • Set up a blog or chat to interact with readers • Make the position more visible in the community • Have power to order a correction • Get a secretary or assistant to help manage calls SELF-ASSESSMENT& IMPROVEMENTS
Tosummarize • The ombudsman’s role of mediation is achieved in all the spheres. • We have seen an Anglo-Saxon sphere where ombudsmen not only perform a role of mediator, but also that of “coach” and promoter of public discussions on journalism issues. • Generally, Anglo-Saxons have more visibility and tend to exploit their channels of communication with readers and with the newsroom better. CONCLUSIONS & NEW TRENDS
To summarize In the European sphere there is room for improvement (even if this depends on how they see their own role): • An essential would be to increase the % of employment; • Increase visibility (for 40% of them this is only sufficient) • Increase the frequency of contacts with readers (columns, meeting with groups of readers, and also using new technologies) to perform their role of “public conscience” better • Increase the frequency of contacts with journalists (internal memos, newsroom meetings) to perform also their coaching role CONCLUSIONS & NEW TRENDS
Switzerland: • characteristics • 1981: Tribune de Genève, 1st European newspaper ombudsman? (Daniel Cornu) • last year 2 ombudsman were “lost” (24 Heures & Le Matin) because the Édipresse group decided to centralize and have 1 ombudsman for its many newspapers. STRONG & UNIQUE TREND: most newspaper ombudsmen now work for editorial groups, not for single newspapers. New trends in Central Europe CONCLUSIONS & NEW TRENDS
Germany: new interest • 1 newspaper ombudsman (Main Post, since 2004) • Lately: many articles in professional reviews • April 2008: "IQ - Initiative Qualität im Journalismus" promoted a campaign entitled Seven good reasons for ombudsmen in the media New trends in Central Europe CONCLUSIONS & NEW TRENDS
France 2006-2008 (in addition to the existing ones): • Paris-Normandie • France-Antilles group • L’Est républicain • L’Express • Le Parisien - Aujourd’hui en France • + creation of the Club des médiateurs de la presse française New trends in Central Europe CONCLUSIONS & NEW TRENDS