Understanding Media Accountability Media Accountability in Relation to Media Criticism and Media Governance in Sweden 1940-2010
Abstract: The concepts of media accountability, media criticism and media governance are analysed and discussed in a Swedish setting; how they relate to each other and interact. This is achieved by using various methods – a survey to editors, analy- ses of parliamentary debates, interviews, direct observation and document stu- dies – in studying different stakeholders, media representatives and governance conditions in Sweden during the last 70 years.The findings point in a direction of dynamic complexities with a central role for media criticism. The type, level and intensity of media criticism may affect the functioning of the media governance structure and is a vital part of the media accountability process. The media governance structure – which in addi- tion to media criticism is influenced by international conditions, technological developments and political factors – may in turn affect the media accountability process. In this process, media representatives aim to defend obtained positions of societal influence, achieve and maintain positive PR and enhance editorial quality at the same time.Media criticism may start a substantial media accountability process if the discontent is widespread and not countered by market approval or political iner- tia. The process is facilitated if the critique is connected to more than one frame of accountability and if stakeholders see opportunities for dual objectives. Very strong and widespread media criticism may be difficult for media organizations to neglect.The accountability process in Sweden has become less dependent on corpora- tive negotiations between organized interests and political assemblies. Instead, two other tendencies seem to have emerged: on the one hand a possibility for media organizations to favour such accountability processes that they are able to control, and on the other hand the rise of a rich variety of sometimes short-lived accountability instruments that may develop for specific occasions and are difficult to control.
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