Journalism Ethics: Individual, institutional or cultural? Oxford, September 26-28, 2012 Similar – but so different!The practice of Press Councils in Estonia and Finland Epp Lauk University of Jyvä skylä , Finland
Finland Estonia 338,340km 2 Population 5.4 million Largest language groups Finnish: 90%, Swedish: 6% 45,227km2 Population 1.29 million Largest language groups Estonian: 68%, Russian: 29%
Finland & EstoniaFinland: – Post-1945 stable societal development – free expression – Limited statutory regulation media self-regulation – Established journalism culture, journalistic autonomy – Strong trade union – Mature civic culture supports professional values of journalismEstonia: – Post-1991 democracy – societal transformation – Broad media freedom – small concentrated media market – Extremely liberal media policy – Low level of journalistic professionalism – Weak trade union, no job security – Immature civic culture, low level of media literacy
Development of media self- regulation: FinlandThe Court of Honour of the Finnish Press 1927; ‘Rules ofEtiquette for Finnish Newspapermen’ 1957 Guidelines forJournalists 1968; Council for Mass Media (CMM) 1968The CMM covers all media, including online only outlets.Collective membership Basic Agreement; Guidelines forJournalists.11 members (7 from the media, 4 representatives of the public)for 3 years. The 2 Vice-Chairs rotate on an annual basis.Annual budget (300 000 EUR in 2012) 70% membership fees,30% from Ministry of Justice
Development of media self- regulation: EstoniaImporting the Finnish model: The Estonian Press Council (EPC)1991 with the Estonian Newspaper Association (ENA) as abackground organisationThe 1st phase 1991-1997: case-by-case practice; the Code ofEthics 19972nd phase 1997-2001The ENA Press Council (ENA PC) 20023rd phase 2002-> the ENA boycott agreement against the EPCComposition and funding: – the EPC consists of 9 members (incl. 3 journalists) delegated by member organisations; membership fees (ca 1000 EUR); – the ENA PC consists of 10 members (6 from media sector, 4 lay members are invited by the ENA); membership fees (unknown)
The practices of the Press Councils ENA PC: Complainant directly harmed, (time limit 3 months) CMM and EPC – Complainant in/directly harmed (CMM: 3 months – EPC: 6 months) ; CMM & EPC may initiate cases 2007-2011: CMM 1104 complaints, ENA PC 232, EPC 171 Adjudications mostly against newspapers: Finland 1 per 3-4; Estonia 1.4 per 1 newspaper Upheld cases: Estonia: 56% of adjudications in 2011; Finland – 28% (average for 44 years of existence is 29-30%) Reasons for upheld cases (2011): 1) publishing incorrect information, 2) not letting complainant to comment or publish a rebuttal CMM: emphasizes individual’s position vis-à-vis the news media Estonia: Courts favor press freedom; ‘undue moral damage’ as the 2nd most frequent reason for upheld cases of the EPC
Codes of EthicsGuidelines for Finnish Journalists 1968, amended in 1976, 1983,1992, 2004, 2010. Wide public debates and participation inconnection with the amendments.The Code of Ethics of the Estonian Press 1997; amended by theENA PC in 2010 (Article 3.7.)Strong legitimacy of the Guidelines among Finnish journalists:90% value the impact of the Guidelines; the company in-houseguidelines – 40% (2011).Estonian journalists: 74% admitted the impact of the Code ontheir work, 7% denied, 19% - indifferent; in-house guidelineshighly valued by 82%.
Conclusions: Similar, but so differentWhy similar structures in relatively similar countries function differently? Similarities: Broad freedom of expression, media freedom highly protected; Liberal media policies; Similar principles of self-regulation and similar professional standards Differences: Stable societal development (Finland) vs turbulent societal transformation (Estonia); Long tradition of media self-regulation (Finland) vs self-regulation as a new phenomenon (Estonia) High level of journalistic professionalism and civic culture (Finland) vs low level of both (Estonia) Transparent and reflexive media culture (Finland) vs opaque and premeditated one (Estonia)