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Impartiality and autonomy: Preconditions for journalism in weak states
Södertörn University, School of Social Sciences, Journalism.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4866-8400
2013 (English)In: From theory to practice: How to assess and apply impartiality in news and current affairs / [ed] Leon Barkho, Bristol: Intellect Ltd., 2013, 169-184 p.Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The autonomous role of Swedish journalists has been won after centuries of bitter struggle since the first laws on liberties for the printed press was legislated in 1766. Sweden is well repudiated for this professional culture, which implies an independent and impartial social role for mass media, free from state censorship, open to investigative reporting and critical debate; in other words autonomous media able to sustain impartial reporting.


Efforts to create a similar position for the media in post-conflict or transition states are countered by strong political and economic forces, by a path dependency of older rules and norms and also by lack of professionalism and investigative resources. In these statesthere is limited or legal protection ofcriticaljournalismandlack ofacivil society thatplaces demands onthose in powerand constitutesa counter-forceagainst oppression andarbitrarinessin the community.


In several states, especially those who previously lacked democratic mass media, there has emerged a plethora of new media which are independent in form but not in content. They are not functioning as correctives to power and offer no room for impartial journalism. Instead, they have become a megaphone for special interests. The question is why this development has taken place and which strategies internal and external actors apply to change the situation. Currently there are extensive studies of journalism in war, conflict and change phases. But there is very limited research on the development of journalism in subsequent periods. The chapter addresses the points of departure for future research on the conditions for journalism in states after crisis, open conflict and substantial social transitions. Studies in states such as Afghanistan and Kosovo demonstrate that international actors, companies and aid agencies have acted inconsistent and ended up in the role-conflicts which frustrated efforts to create autonomous and impartial journalism.


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Bristol: Intellect Ltd., 2013. 169-184 p.
Keyword [en]
mass media autonomy, impartial reporting, journalistic independence, media and democracy, media development support
National Category
Media and Communications
URN: urn:nbn:se:sh:diva-27205ISBN: 978-1-84150-726-2OAI: diva2:809564
Available from: 2015-05-04 Created: 2015-05-04 Last updated: 2015-05-06Bibliographically approved

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