International Index of Bribery for News Coverage

Monday
17:35:18
July
26 2004

International Index of Bribery for News Coverage

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FERPI " Bribery of the news media in too many countries robs citizens of credible information they need to make personal and collective decisions. This comprehensive research for the first time gives us an index that ranks 66 of the world's nations for the likelihood that print journalists will seek or accept cash for news coverage from government officials, businesses, or other news sources.

The index was developed to provide a useful quantitative measure by which countries can track their progress over time and compared to other nations. Whether a country ranks high or low, many parties are adversely affected - journalists, news sources, advertisers, government policy makers, and the consuming public. Public relations professionals and journalists alike - as citizens who best understand the importance of media integrity - need to take leadership roles in eliminating this unethical practice.

Dr. Dean Kruckeberg, Professor in the Department of Communications Studies at the University of Northern Iowa, and Katerina Tsetsura, doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication at Purdue University, developed the methodology (described below) and conducted the research. The project was sponsored by Hürriyet, Turkey's leading daily newspaper and a member of the Doan Media Group (DMG); and commissioned jointly by the Institute for Public Relations and the International Public Relations Association, as part of its Campaign for Media Transparency.

Bribery of the media, according to the study, is most likely to occur in China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Pakistan. By contrast, those countries with the best ratings for avoiding such practices are Finland (first place); Denmark, New Zealand and Switzerland (tied for second place). Germany, Iceland, and the United Kingdom tied for third place, followed by Norway. Austria, Canada, the Netherlands, Sweden, Belgium, and the United States had the fifth best rating.

An Explanation of the Methodology

The index focuses specifically on cash for news coverage practices by daily newspapers. While bribery is known also to occur with broadcast and other types of media, the research is confined to print media to insure a common frame of reference. The 66 countries were selected for their global, economic and political importance.

Because of the virtual impossibility of measuring the phenomenon of cash being paid for news coverage through direct observation, the researchers employed a composite index methodology. Thus, they sought a surrogate set of measures that would be predictive and correlated, but not necessarily causative. A critical challenge was how to select and validate these factors for their relevance to the problem.

A survey instrument was used to seek the collective expertise of two worldwide groups affected by the problem. These were the International Public Relations Association's Board and Council; and the International Press Institute's Board, National Committee Members and Fellows. The worldwide leadership of these two institutions were asked for their expert views on the relevance of potential index factors. These factors were scored for their perceived correlation to a decreased likelihood that journalists will seek or accept cash for news coverage.

Through this methodology, the researchers narrowed their focus down to eight variables for which objective third party data were available. These eight are:

”¢  - Long-time tradition of self-determination by citizens.
”¢  - Comprehensive corruption laws with effective enforcement.
”¢  - Accountability of government to citizens at all levels.
”¢  - High adult literacy.
”¢  - High liberal and professional education of practicing journalists.
”¢  - Well-established, publicized and enforceable journalism codes of professional ethics.
”¢  - Free press, free speech and free flow of information.
”¢  - High media competition (multiple and competing media).

The data on the eight factors were then numerically scored, and the 66 countries were rank ordered from highest to lowest.

The Institute for Public Relations and the International Public Relations Association wish to thank Dr. Kruckeberg and Ms. Tsetsura for their dedication and diligence in creating this extraordinary research; and Hürriyet for its generous sponsorship of the project.

Dr. Dean Kruckeberg, APR, Fellow PRSA
Professor, Department of Communication Studies
University of Northern Iowa

Ms. Katerina Tsetsura
Doctoral Candidate, Department of Communication
Purdue University

With Introduction by Frank Ovaitt,
Co-Chairman, Institute for Public Relations and
The IPRA Campaign for Media Transparency

Commissioned by the Institute for Public Relations (USA) and
The International Public Relations Association

Sponsored by Hürriyet, a member of the Do?an Media Group of Turkey

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