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Austria – (E10) Rules and practices on internal pluralism

Score in short:

As Austrian newsrooms usually do not have codified guidelines, contradictions and discussions are also subject to informal agreements.

Score in detail:

Diverse opinions are generally welcome in Austrian newsrooms and even promoted by the editors-in-chief. It seems that the freedom of the journalist’s opinion and its expression is higher in non-daily journalistic work and on a national rather than on a regional level. Most editors-in-chief mentioned quality criteria and the fundamental orientation of the news medium as the limits to the personal convictions of journalists.

Concerning the selection of experts for news coverage, all editors-in-chief concluded that diversity is difficult and therefore sometimes limited, however desirable. Some newsrooms have expert pools or special databases, although most experts are recruited by journalists because of informal contacts. even though a rotation of experts is preferable for most editors-in-chief, time pressure and limited resources sometimes impede this ideal. More explicit rules on the representation of all socially significant views and inclusion of diverse experts only exist for the ORF, as they are required by law to represent this diversity. In print media newsrooms, such principles are expected to be individually internalized and are not regularly discussed or supervised.