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Austria – (C8) Professional training

Score in short:

Supply of further education is abundant in Austrian newsrooms; nevertheless workshops on democratic values and ethical standards are rare.

Score in detail:

The right for journalists to attend further education does not exist in any of the Austrian newsrooms in our media sample nor is it granted by law. As journalism is a free and unlimited activity, no special education is required and educational measures are voluntary. Nevertheless, some of the newsrooms in our media sample offer internal educational programs for their employees: Salzburger Nachrichten is currently planning to set up an internal workshop program, the online medium is already organizing courses on journalistic skills and considering an extension of its program. Other editors-in-chief admitted that high costs would prevent them from establishing internal courses, and that they would instead rely on external educational programs (for instance Kuratorium für Journalistenausbildung). The editor-in-chief of Kronen Zeitung Salzburg, however, doubted the effectiveness of journalistic education at all and considered the profession a vocation which simply requires talent. Thus, in many newsrooms further education depends on the initiative of the journalists themselves. If courses are suggested by journalists, financial support is not guaranteed but quite common in Austrian newsrooms. The final decision usually lies with the editors-in-chief.

The ORF has an internal department that organizes education, including courses on democratic, political or legal issues. Nevertheless, the head of information of ORF radio stressed that employees must already have basic knowledge about democracy before being hired.

Most educational offers focus on technical aspects or writing skills. even though most editors-in-chief admitted that courses on democratic values and ethical behavior could be interesting for their employees, internal opportunities are rather modest. Most of our interviewees argued that knowledge about formal and stylistic journalistic skills automatically led to a professionalization of journalists and further measures to raise awareness of democratic rights and duties were dispensable.