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Austria – (E9) Participation

Score in short:

Audience participation is limited to “classical” means of participation, e.g. letters to the editor. Austrian newsrooms are not open to citizens.

Score in detail:

In general there are two possibilities for the audience to directly participate in Austrian newsrooms or to get in contact with the newsroom: online postings and letters to the editor. letters to the editor are in some newsrooms directly read and selected by the editor-in-chief (Salzburger Nachrichten, Kronen Zeitung Salzburg), other newsrooms have special staff members for this (Die Presse,, Profil). even though all news media in our sample provide online postings and recognize the increasing importance of online user feedback, some of the editors-in-chief are rather skeptical about the value of postings. All editors-in-chief and the president of the journalists’ union conclude that audience members can only fulfill journalistic functions to a very limited extent and do not consider weblogs or online discussion boards a severe competition to their work. Besides classical forms, the possibility for the audience to participate or to get involved is limited.

Access to editorial conferences is generally limited to the newsroom members; public editorial conferences are not practiced in any of the newsrooms in our sample. All interviewees expressed their skepticism about such concepts of transparency. Some editors-in-chief feared that editorial conferences could only have a representative character if they were public. Others mentioned the possible presence of journalists from competing news media as a threat to the exclusivity of their stories. ORF, Salzburger Nachrichten and Die Presse regularly offer guided tours and organize public discussions about journalistic issues from time to time.