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Austria – (F3) Diversity of news sources

Score in short:

All editors-in-chief emphasized the predominant role of journalistic research and pointed out that external content could at best serve as a starting point for further investigation.

Score in detail:

The national news agency APA (Austria Presse Agentur) is an important source in the daily business of journalism. It is owned by 15 Austrian newspapers and the ORF (APA 2010, p. 2). Most of our respondents stressed the importance of news agencies in the working process and reported using different news agencies (dpa, Reuters). Nevertheless, some respondents see the importance of news agencies diminishing due to other directly accessible sources. According to a survey among Austrian journalists, more than two thirds regularly or occasionally use the APA archive as a starting point for their research; online research is used by 94.8 % (S. Weber 2006, p. 16). Altogether the respondents stressed the role of news agencies as a backup basis for stories and an archive for research rather than as a dominant or priority source.

Concerning PR material, the position of our respondents was diverse. On a local level, PR material as an information source was acknowledged but not considered as increasing problem. On the contrary, public service media and quality newspapers strictly rejected the use of PR material. Recent studies show that Austrian journalists are at least aware of such external influences: about 60 % noted that advertising or PR interests serve sometimes or even regularly as a reference point for their stories. Approximately 40 % even admitted that their own stories are at least sometimes PR orientated (S. Weber 2006, pp. 39-42). Direct use of external material without further research provoked by time pressure and the increasing potential of an agenda-setting function of such sources were seen as the main problems.