How do national or regional newspapers and TV channels protect themselves against attempts to exert external or economic pressure?
In times of crisis, or tense political situation, how is vigilance against minor compromises maintained?
Are there formal procedures or are these delicate situations managed case by case?
De Standaard : Supervised by the hierarchy
There are continuous pressures and attempts to influence De Standaard. It is part of the daily challenge of chief editors to receive and acknowledge these pressures and at the same time sidestep them.
Europe 1 : On a case by case basis
Nothing has been formalised. Any case of pressure being applied is resolved internally.
France 24 : Via the hierarchy
Le Monde : Nothing is formalised
Ouest France : Graded responses
Generally, local journalists and correspondents are more often subjected to pressure and this is usually political rather than economic.
Ouest-France organises ‘press relations’ training programmes in Chambers of Commerce and Industry or in individual companies. This has made a difference.
The departmental manager and agency heads – who have all had mediation training – are on the front line to defend editorial independence. The Management Board only intervene as a last resort.
Conflictual situations are rare and mostly concern correspondents. This is the reason the newspaper plans to reactivate the running of its network.
In the bigger cities, relationships with public figures are usually straightforward, but these can be more difficult in smaller areas. Generally, incidents are rare because most people do not wish to make waves. Local correspondents in small villages enjoy limited freedom but are cherished by editorial teams as it is so difficult to find correspondents due to the low pay.
Berliner Zeitung : Nothing has been formalised
Attempts to apply pressure are rarely seen.
ZDF : Immediate public reaction
When there are attempts to manipulate, for example by the Länder governments, the simple revelation of the facts can be enough to defuse the pressure exerted. This was the case in 2012 when the Bavarian government spokesperson was forced to resign (article in the French newspaper La Croix).
Otherwise, when faced with attempts to influence or exert pressure, the media has a range of protective options from administrative judicial authorities up to the Federal Constitutional Court, fervent protector of public press independence.
The Irish Times : Through lengthy experience
The Irish Times has existed for 150 years and has survived all the problems experienced by Ireland. One of the reasons for its longevity is, without doubt, its capacity to resist outside pressures. The editorial staff, management and the Trust have guaranteed, and fought for, the newspaper’s independence, each at its own level.
Polskie Radio, kanal 3 : Sometimes with difficulty
The Polskie Radio hierarchy generally manages to resist attempts to exert influence, but not always, and journalists sometimes accede to this.
Nevertheless, the pressures are more economic than political. Financial constraints are such that the government takes a close interest in audience numbers and value for money. High standards must be maintained with large audience numbers and this is not always easy to achieve.
BBC : By the Directors for News and a specific unit
The BBC is ‘fiercely independent’ but is nevertheless open to dialogue with politicians. The Director for News or one of their collaborators responds directly to complaints from politicians.
During election periods a special service of three to four people manages complaints from politicians.
The Guardian : By the hierarchy
Journalists who are subject to particularly insistent pressure will raise the issue with the editorial management team or the Editor-in-chief.