Journalism faces unprecedented challenges worldwide. What were the main changes shaping journalism in our region in the past two decades? How did journalists and newsrooms cope with the accelerated pace of development and at the same time fight different threats affecting the integrity of the news media? How can media professionals redress journalism by using the self-regulatory tools of media? How will journalism change in the future?
Participants of the international conference “Journalism in 20 years” sought answers to these questions on 7 December 2015 in Budapest. The event was co-organized by the Editors’ Forum, the Center for Independent Journalism (CIJ) and the Goethe-Institut in Budapest. The conference gathered 150 journalists, analysts, researchers, representatives of media self-regulatory and civil society organizations from Hungary and other European countries – Austria, Estonia, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Slovenia and the United Kingdom – to discuss the trends of development and possible future scenarios of journalism.
Korrektor.hu – a new self-regulatory complaints procedure
After the opening speeches by Balázs Weyer (Editors’ Forum), Ilona Móricz (CIJ) and Michael Müller-Verweyen (Goethe-Institut), the new Hungarian media self-regulatory complaints procedure Korrektor.hu was publicly launched. It was established on the initiative of Editors’ Forum Hungary with a broad cooperation of professional organisations, including the Hungarian Publishers’ Association and the Association of Hungarian Content Providers. According to the procedure, anyone can make a complaint about any violation of the ethical guidelines. The complaint is encouraged to approach the news organization at first, but can be addressed Korrektor directly requesting a decision on the matter concerned. Korrektor is to strengthen public confidence in the media, encourage more ethical journalism and improve the relations between the press and the audience.
The press conference was followed by presentations and a panel discussion about the European practices and models of media self-regulatory and corrective mechanisms. Participants of the discussion were Janina Führ (German Press Council), Alexander Warzilek (Press Council of Austria), Kjell Nyhuus (Press Complaints Commission, Norway), Tarmu Tammerk (Media Ombudsman, Estonian Public Broadcasting Company), Tamás Tófalvy (Association of Content Providers in Hungary) and Tibor Kovács (Hungarian Publishers’ Association).
Future scenarios of journalism
Consultant Kim Wannet from Van de Bunt presented the report Journalism 2025 which was published by the Dutch Journalism Fund in 2015. Four scenarios were described, as the future of journalism will be defined by various, often conflicting trends such as declining revenues, journalists becoming brands, data- and analytics-driven journalism.
Prof. Christian-Mathias Wellbrock, of University of Hamburg presented his study (co-edited with Michel Clement) Theses on the future of the press. According to their study, the amount of money spent on quality journalism and the editorial staff will be decreased and profit-oriented media companies will offer low quality journalism. Online content will remain free; consumers will be willing to pay only for exclusive, quality content. According to this forecast, only media companies employing star journalists will survive. Regional media will be in a better position because of providing local content.
In her presentation journalist Caleainn Barr of The Guardian Data Project said that the future journalism may not only be data-driven journalism, but it will definitely be a part of it. She emphasized that data journalism could produce profit in the long run; it engages different type of readers who stay longer on the site.
During the panel discussion following the presentations, Brankica Petkovic, lead researcher of the Peace Institute Ljubljana and Balázs Weyer joined in the debate. Brankica Petkovic emphasized that journalists in East and South East Europe face different challenges than their Western colleagues due to the often strong pressure of economic and political interest groups on the news media.
Celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Center for Independent Journalism
At the conference the Center for Independent Journalism celebrated its 20th anniversary together with colleagues and guests. In their brief presentations János Horvát (President of the Board of Trustees, CIJ), Sándor Orbán (former director of CIJ), Anita Vorák (journalist of Direkt36), Tibor Rácz (journalist of HVG) and CIJ director Ilona Móricz recalled the foundation’s history, major activities and also outlined the future plans to strengthen independent and quality journalism in Hungary.