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Austria – (C9) Watchdog function and financial resources

Score in short:

Austrian newsrooms usually try to provide resources for in-depth research to the extent possible. The decision which issue is most promising is up to the editor-in-chief.

Score in detail:

The regional newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten has 10 staff members located in Vienna who are in charge of national news coverage in certain areas (economy, national politics, culture, etc.). Other national newspapers, for example Kronen Zeitung, have independently organized regional newsrooms providing regional information; their international news coverage is mainly based on international news agencies. Most Austrian newspapers and the ORF have a broad range of foreign correspondents. Most of them are neither internal staff members of the medium nor are they exclusively engaged by just one medium; they usually work on freelancing contracts for several German-speaking news media companies. even though contracts are usually limited, specific rules on rotation are rare and contracts are usually prolonged several times.

The amount of time and money that can be spent on in-depth investigation differs a great deal among the news media in our sample. In fact, so far no Austrian newsroom has journalists who exclusively work on in-depth research of critical stories, even though one editor-in-chief (Die Presse) told us about plans to establish an exclusive reporter team, which were delayed due to financial restrictions. Nevertheless, when interesting information is expected, all editors-in-chief mentioned that the exemption of journalists for a couple of days is possible. This is easier in weekly magazines, where stories are investigated over a longer period of time. Nevertheless, there are no established rules and the editors-in-chief decide which journalist will get additional time for research.