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Calidad Revistas Científicas Españolas
VOL.
29(4)/
2016
Author / Mª Rosa BERGANZA CONDE Professor. Department of Communication and Sociology. Rey Juan Carlos University. Spain.
Author / Beatriz HERRERO-JIMÉNEZ Visiting professor. Department of Communication Studies. Rovira i Virgili University. Spain.
Author / Carlos ARCILA CALDERÓN Lecturer. Department of Sociology and Communication, Salamanca University. Spain.
More authors:  1 2 3
Article / Perceived influences and trust in political institutions of public vs private television journalists in Spain
Contents /

1. Introduction

The practices and attitudes of journalists are the focus of increasing attention in scientific literature (Hanitzsch et al., 2011). Autonomy, understood as the professional freedom to develop occupational practices (Weaver, Beam, Brownlee, Voakes & Wilhoit, 2007), is one of the core elements of the professionalisation of journalism (Singer, 2007) as well as a vital condition for a balanced relationship between journalists and politicians (van Dalen, Albaek & de Vreese, 2011). This relationship has also been the object of research in the communications field, for although it was once understood as symbiotic, it has now turned into a ‘spiral of mistrust’ in certain contexts (Brants, de Vreese, Möller & van Praag, 2009). More specifically, a comparative study carried out among journalists of four European countries that included Spain (van Dalen, Albaek & de Vreese, 2001) singled out these relationships as a factor for the increasing apathy and lack of interest of the journalistic profession towards politics.

The perception that Spanish citizens have of political institutions is also going through a critical phase. According to the European Commission´s Eurobarometer survey of spring 2015, Spain is, together with Slovenia, the country in the European Union that shows the least trust in its Government and national Parliament (European Commission, 2015), a situation which has been ongoing for at least two years (European Commission, 2013).

Academic literature points towards the media as a possible influencing factor in this lack of trust. The theory of the spiral of cynicism, formulated by Capella and Jamieson (1997), highlights certain information resources (high presence of negative information, strategic and game-oriented approaches) as elements that enhance the general public´s feeling of apathy for politics, distrust of the political class and a diminished desire to participate (Lengauer, Esser & Berganza, 2011; Berganza, 2008). On the other hand, since the beginning of the 70s, academic research has associated the boom in television consumption with a decline of trust in political institutions (Mutz & Reeves, 2005). The concept of videomalaise also points towards public distrust as a consequence of the negativity of television news (Robinson, 1975)[1].

In the current Spanish scenario, as in the rest of Europe, television is the main means of communication, with penetration rates over 85% for each age bracket (APM, 2013). Information spaces in television channels are, even today and in spite of the digital boom, citizens´ main source of information on current affairs (López & Cuenca, 2005). According to data from the Centre of Sociological Research for October 2015, 81.1% of Spanish population listens to the news on the radio or watches the news on television every day or at least 3 or 4 days a week (CIS, 2015). Television news programmes, therefore, have a significant power of influence on public opinion (García Avilés, 2007). In fact, a recent study conducted in Spain indicates that the high consumption of television news is a predisposing factor for the decreased questioning of the media (Roses & Gómez-Calderón, 2015), which is the reason why research on the attitudes and practices of television journalists is of vital interest.

Additionally, as pointed out by Lamuerda and Lara (2009: 34): “Journalists that work for public media are of special interest” in the Spanish media system where “business, political and media groups have colonised a large area of the public sphere”. These journalists of public media, therefore, play a vital role in ensuring the quality of democracy (Walzer & Retis, 2006).

This research aims to study the levels of trust in public institutions and the different sources of influence perceived by television journalists in Spain, as well as the existing differences between those that practice the profession in public versus private televisions. The relevance of this study is highlighted when considering that, although television in Spain and Europe was created as a public entity in order to ensure the quality of the service and the internal pluralism of information (Moreno, 2007; Sánchez Tabernero, 2005), the reality of the Spanish public audiovisual sector is quite another. Previous literature claims that journalism in public television is guided by the market and audiences rather than by the notion of public service (Piedrahita, 1995). Furthermore, some studies indicate that professionals in the public sector experience constant interference from political parties of national and regional governments, a characteristic which coincides with the description of the polarised plural media system in which Spain is integrated (Hallin & Mancini, 2004; Sánchez Tabernero, 2005).

 

 

1.1. Trust of television journalists in Spain

Previous research indicates that the determinants of trust in public institutions of those who practice the profession arise at different levels: individual and organisational, as well as in the systemic context (van Dalen et al., 2011). If trust in political institutions is defined in terms of the scope of confidence that the public has on their sound future functioning (Hudson, 2006), there is no doubt that the institutional theories that link public trust with institutional performance (Mishler & Rose, 2001) are rationally established. Within this supra-media level, the economic and political performance of institutions is of special relevance (Grosskopf, 2008; Miller & Listhaug, 1999). More specifically, corruption and the levels of freedom of press appear as aspects that are especially significant to determine the trust of journalists (Hanitzsch & Berganza, 2012). In this respect, the Federation of Journalists´ Trade Unions has recently reported setbacks in freedom of information in Spain (FeSP, 2014).

In the organisational and professional fields, media ownership and professional culture often appear in scientific literature to explain journalists´ trust in institutions. In the first case, although the theory indicates that private media has less trust in institutions that public and state media due to its orientation towards commercial journalism (McManus, 1994), comparative empirical analyses between countries have not been able to corroborate this assumption (Hanitzsch & Berganza, 2012), nor have studies conducted recently on the Spanish journalistic context (Berganza, Herrero & Carratalá, 2016: 37-38).

With regard to professional culture, it can be understood as the professional ideology in terms of distance to power (Hanitzsch, 2007). Thus, journalists can act with more distance, taking on the role of “watchdogs” or even opponents (Deuze, 2005; Weaver et al., 2007), or with less distance. Those that keep less distance will show greater trust, although empirical data only corroborates this statement with a minimum level of statistical significance (Hanitzsch & Berganza, 2012).

The case of Spanish television takes on special relevance in this scenario. On one hand, the medium is particularly dependent on institutional arrangements due to the government licensing system. On the other, the economic crisis has had a serious impact on the sector, with the introduction of redundancy schemes and a decrease in revenues. In fact, it has been the type of media that has most suffered this second aspect of the crisis (APM, 2013). Additionally, television in Spain is the most adversarial medium (more combative against power) when compared to the radio or the press (Canel & Sánchez-Aranda, 1999). Due to all this, the present work sets the following research question:

RQ1: What are the levels of trust in public institutions of television journalists in Spain? Are these levels different to those of journalists from other types of media?

 

Due to the fact that public television in Spain has been affected by a higher number of changes than its private counterpart as a consequence of difficulties and the actions of national and regional governments (Díaz Nosty, 2011; Lamuerda & Lara, 2009), it can be inferred that there are differences in the levels of trust of public and private television workers. In a similar way, the idea that public media must offer contents more closely connected to its role as a public service than private media (Lamuerda & Lara, 2009; Walter & Retis, 2006), can determine a different professional culture that is dependent on media ownership, which, as we have seen, may have some bearing on the trust of journalists regarding public institutions. Which leads us to the following question:

RQ2: Are there significant differences between the levels of trust of public and private television journalists towards public institutions?

1.2. Influences perceived by television journalists in Spain

There is no doubt that journalists are constantly limited by the structure and nature of their work (Skovsgaard, 2014). In fact, these limitations or influencing factors are often diverse and act simultaneously (Hanitzsch et al., 2010). The organisational nature of media, which develops in supra-organisational contexts (political, economic) and involves individuals with different biographic experiences and professions, has led to a large amount of academic research and the elaboration of theoretical models on the different sectors of influence and their interrelationships. In this way, Ettema, Whitney and Wackman (1987) synthesise three levels: individual, organisational and institutional. Donsbach (2000), on the other hand, adds the social sphere. Shoemaker and Reese (1996) put forward a model of nested levels: individual; journalistic practices; organisational; extra-media; and, finally, ideological. Voakes (1997) identifies seven sources of influence: individual, small groups, organisational, competition, occupational, extra-media and legal.

These authors do not coincide in the number and types of levels of influence and, furthermore, scientific literature is not unanimous in evaluating the relevance of each of them. Some authors give more weight to individual predispositions (Flegel & Chaffee, 1971; White, 1950), others to organisational structures (Altmepeen, 2008; Weaver & Loffelholz, 2008), and others highlight the importance of extramedia determinants (McManus 2009; Hallin & Mancini, 2004).

Nevertheless, in the last few years, empirical academic research on the multilevel structure of influences in journalistic work has led to significant progress (Berganza, Arcila-Calderón & Herrero-Jiménez, 2016; Hanitzsch et al., 2010; Hanitzsch & Mellado, 2011; Relly & González de Bustamante, 2014), although none of these analyses focus on the television medium. The type of media is, according to scientific bibliography, one of the characteristics that affect the autonomy of journalists (Skovsgaard, 2014; Weaver et al., 2007). Empirical analyses, however, don´t always corroborate this relationship (Berganza, Arcila-Calderón & Herrero-Jiménez, 2016; Mellado & Humanes, 2012).

In general terms, the television medium seems to follow its own media logic, i.e. the specific forms and processes that organise work within a particular medium (Dahlgren, 1996). In this sense, the television industry in Spain follows the lead of the United States in the production of contents based on economic considerations (Fengler & Ruß-Mohl, 2008). Thus, journalism revolves around infotainment, turning information and news into a show (Piedrahita, 1995; García Avilés, 2007). The differentiated media logic that this type of content implies, may result in a different perception of influences both in terms of journalistic routines and editorial practices. Additionally, it should be noted that the structure of television media has usually been considered more hierarchical than that of other types of media (Cook, 1998), which has repercussions on the relationships between journalists and their superiors (Skovsgaard, 2014) and could imply greater influence of the organisational level. In view of this situation, it seems relevant to know:

RQ3: Which levels of influence are perceived as more relevant by television journalists in Spain? Are there significant differences between the influences perceived by television journalists and those who work for other types of media?

 

On the other hand, media ownership, generally divided into public, private and state (Hanitzsch & Mellado, 2011), has been a key factor in the study of perceived influences and autonomy of journalists (McManus, 1994; Reich & Hanitzch, 2013). In general terms, studies on this subject indicate that autonomy is usually lower in private media than in public media (Duval, 2005) and, therefore, it can be assumed that perceived influences are higher in private media. However, the empirical analyses conducted don´t always support this relationship and results vary for different nations and media systems (Reich & Hanitzsch, 2013; Hanitzsch & Mellado, 2011, Mellado & Humanes, 2012).

Public television in Spain follows the characteristics of the polarised plural model; that is, among other traits, it shows a dependence on the political groups of the government in power, and this applies to Televisión Española (RTVE, the national and state owned television broadcaster) as well as to local and regional channels (Díaz Nosty, 2011; Moreno, 2007; Walzer & Retis, 2006; Humanes & Alonso, 2015). These apparently obvious political influences that have sometimes led journalists to complain about pressure and manipulation (APM, 2013; Humanes & Alonso, 2015), can equally become intraorganisational influences of an editorial nature (Reich & Hanitzsch, 2013) and also professional routine influences, since they affect the nature, orientation and number of sources that public media journalists must consult (Lamuerda & Lara, 2009; Humanes & Alonso, 2015). On the other hand, a priori, influences of an economic nature would have more weight in privately owned media. Due to all this, we formulate the following question:

RQ4: Are there significant differences between the influences perceived by public and private television journalists?

 

2. Method

The data was gathered within the framework of and thanks to the funding of the international project Worlds of Journalism Study (WJS, http://www.worldsofjournalism.org), and also supplemented by funds from the project of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (CSO2013-44874-R).

The objective of WJS is to learn about the professional cultures of journalism in more than 60 countries. More specifically, a representative survey was conducted among Spanish journalists (n=390), stratified by type and size of medium, autonomous community and professional level. The sampling procedure was multistage, first generating clusters of media (as an added sampling unit) from a list of 382 news media created by the researchers from data of the Madrid Press Association (APM, 2013) and the Agenda de la Comunicación –the agenda of the Spanish government's press information service. Once 117 news media were selected in a stratified and random manner, 5 journalists were chosen for each large news media and 3 for each small news media, with full respect for the quotas of professional levels (copywriter, middle-management journalist and high-level manager). The surveys were conducted over the telephone between March 2014 and May 2015 by a team of interviewers, previously trained by the researchers. The journalists were informed of the objectives of the study and gave their consent to participate in the research.

 

 

Table 1. Distribution of the sample by media and number of journalists

Media

Journalists

Private or mainly private TV

 

8Tv

3

8Tv Andalucía

3

Castilla y León Televisión

5

Intereconomía Tv (national)

3

La 8 Burgos

3

La 8 de Ávila

3

La Sexta (national)

5

Navarra Televisión

5

Teidevisión

3

V Televisión

3

Total

36

 

 

Public or state, or mainly public or state, TV

 

324 (Televisió de Catalunya)

3

Barcelona Televisión

3

ETB (Televisión vasca)

3

Fuengirola Televisión

3

Onda Jerez Tv

3

TVE Asturias

3

TVE Navarra

3

TVE País Vasco

3

Aragón Tv

5

Telemadrid

5

Total

34

   

Overall total

70

 

Of a total of 474 selected professionals, 390 completed the survey (an effective response rate of 82.28%). The sample included 70 professionals from the television sector (table 1) and 320 from other types of media: 157 from daily newspapers, 3 from weekly newspapers, 14 from magazines, 46 from radio, 11 from news agencies and 89 from digital media. According to the estimations carried out for the population of journalists in Spain (N=18,000) by Berganza, Herrero and Carratalá (2016) from data of the APM (2013) and Díaz-Nosty (2010), the sampling size is appropriate for a probabilistic study with a 95% confidence level and 5% margin of error. The sub-sample of TV journalists represented 18% of the general study and, within this group, half of them worked for private audiovisual media and the other half for public audiovisual media.

 

2.1. Measures

As well as sociodemographic variables, the survey included 26 closed questions on the 6 main variables of the study (trust in institutions, political influences, economic influences, professional routine influences, organisational influences and group of reference influences). All items were measured in 1 to 5 scales and then grouped in order to construct indexes for each of the constructs. Table 2 shows the results of the exploratory factor analysis (EFA) which suggested a latent structure of 6 dimensions (one for each of our theoretical variables), accounting for 60.82% of variance for the group of indicators (KMO = 0.802, p<0.000). The EFA identifies the latent structure of a series of indicators (Cronbach & Meehl, 1955; Smith, 2005; Macía, 2010) which confirms the validity of each one of the 6 constructs.

More specifically, based on Hanitzsch and Berganza (2014), an index of trust in institutions was constructed, where 1 represents “no trust” and 5 “total trust”. This index refers to the level of trust that journalists claim to have in the public institutions of their country and includes valuations on parliament, government, political parties and politicians in general. In order to verify the reliability of this construct, the internal correlation between its items was measured using Cronbach's alpha, whose ideal minimum values are of 0.70 (Cronbach, 1951; Hayes, 2005). This index of trust in institutions obtained an adequate reliability (α=0.79).

Additionally, based on the proposals of Hanitzsch et al. (2010) and Hanitzsch and Mellado (2011), the 5 main sources of influence perceived by journalists in their everyday work were measured. For each index of influence, 1 represents “no influence” and 5 “extreme influence”. Political influences refer to the external coercive forces that arise from the political system (α=0.84); economic influences to editorial pressures due to economic imperatives and commercial considerations (α=0.84); professional routine influences to the repetitive practices of journalists in their everyday work (α=0.71); organisational influences refer to the norms and structures of media organisations (α=0.74); and group of reference influences to the personal context and private life of journalists (α=0.67). All constructs reached adequate values of reliability for internal consistency.

 

Table 2. Validity of the construct using EFA (Varimax rotation)

and internal consistency reliability tests (Cronbach's alpha)

 

Trust in institutions

           

Parliament

0.76

         

Government

0.78

         

Political parties

0.82

         

Politicians in general

0.77

         

Political influences

           

Censorship

 

0.57

       

Government officials

 

0.75

       

Politicians

 

0.83

       

Pressure groups

 

0.81

       

Businessmen

 

0.68

       

Public relations

 

0.53

       

The army, police and security forces

 

0.54

       

Organisational influences

           

Managers or editors

   

0.77

     

Media senior managers

   

0.87

     

Media owner/s

   

0.83

     

Editorial policy

   

0.65

     

Professional routine influences

           

Availability of resources to obtain information

     

0.71

   

Deadlines and time restrictions

     

0.68

   

Competing media

     

0.51

   

Access to information

     

0.76

   

in relation to sources of information

     

0.62

   

Economic influences

           

Advertisers and advertising influences

       

0.63

 

Pressure from economic expectations and profits

       

0.72

 

Audience and market research

       

0.78

 

Group of reference influences

           

Friends, acquaintances and family

         

0.78

Colleagues from other media

         

0.75

Work colleagues

         

0.71

Eigenvalue

2.02

6.14

2.57

2.35

1.56

1.18

Explained variance

7.77%

23.61%

9.90%

9.03%

5.99%

4.53%

Cronbach's alpha (α)

0.79

0.84

0.84

0.71

0.74

0.67

 

Note: Loads higher than 0.4 are shown for each factor.

 

2.2. Statistical analysis

The data of the survey was encoded using the SPPS package (v21). The records were anonymised and stored in university servers with access limited to members of the research team. A first exploratory analysis of data was conducted to verify the absence of empty records, lost or atypical values, and the type of distribution of each variable. Then the validity and reliability analyses were conducted (as described previously), which allowed the calculation of each of the 6 indexes from the arithmetic mean of the indicators they consisted of.

Descriptive and inferential analyses were carried out. In the first case, the frequency and measures of central tendency and dispersion were calculated for each of the 6 indexes, as well as the sociodemographic characteristics of the sample (age, years of experiences and gender). With regard to the inferential analysis and in order to answer the research questions of this study, independent Student´s t-tests were ran to establish differences between groups, as well as single factor (One Way) and repeated measures ANOVA, and X2 tests to test the association between two categorical variables. Additionally, a matrix of correlations was generated to explore the relationships between the 5 types of perceived influences, trust in institutions and the variables of age and years of experience. All the analyses used bootstraping with 10,000 samples (95% confidence interval and bias correction method).

 

3. Results

The television journalists surveyed (n=70) showed similar characteristics to professionals from other sectors (n=320), such as newspapers, radio, webs or news agencies. There are no significant differences in the average age of television workers (M=39.20, DE=9.03)[2] in relation to those from other types of media (M=39.58, DE=9.20), t(387)= 0.314 p=0.754, BootCI95= -2.02 to 2.70; nor in the years of work experience of the former (M=15.51, DE=8.54) with regards the latter (M=15.96, DE=9.00), t(387)= 0.375 p=0.708, BootCI95= -1.82 to 2.64. In both cases the percentage of female workers is lower (41.4% in TV and 40.9% in other sectors), which indicates that gender is not a differentiating variable between the groups, X2 (1, N=390) = 0.006, p=0.940.

However, when we compare the age of public TV workers (M=41.96, DE=8.98) as well as their years of work experience (M=17.88, DE=8.79) with the age of private TV journalists (M=36.97, DE=8.62) and their years of experience (M=13.28, DE=7.77), there are significant differences in both cases, t(68)= -2.180, p<0.05, BootCI95= -8.50 to -0.57; t(68)= -2.324, p<0.05, BootCI95= -8.57 to -0.80. Private television professionals are significantly younger and, as a consequence, have fewer years of work experience in the sector. The percentage of female journalists in public TV (44.1%) is higher than in private TV (23.9%), although it isn´t possible to sustain that these variables are associated, X2 (1, N=70) = 0.197, p=0.657. In general terms, TV journalists are relatively young (an average age of 39 years with a standard deviation of 9 years) although a substantial portion of their lives has been dedicated to journalism (an average of 16 years with a standard deviation of 9 years).

As can be observed in table 3, the level of trust in public institutions of television journalists in Spain was of 2.37 (DE=0.62), a value that is slightly lower than the one obtained in a previous survey (M=2.75, DE=0.67) finalised in 2011 (Hanitzsch & Berganza, 2014). Television journalists showed a higher level of trust in parliament (M=2.90, DE=0.99), followed by government (M=2.44, DE=0.96), politicians in general (M=2.09, DE=0.68) and, in last place, political parties (M=2.04, DE=0.71). The repeated measures ANOVA test (not assuming sphericity, X2(5)=43.142, p<0.000) showed that the differences between these levels were significant F(2.081, 143.593)=25.004, p<0.000, η2p=0.455 (the degrees of freedom were corrected with the Greenhouse-Geisser approximation, ε=0.694). In particular, differences were obtained between the levels of trust for all institutions, except in the case of the difference between political parties and politicians in general, according to post hoc tests. This means that the trust in political parties and politicians is similar, unlike the rest of cases.

Table 3. Average age, years of experience, trust in institutions and perceived influences, splited by type of media (TV and other types) and by type of ownership of the TV (public and private)

 

TV

 

Other media (newspapers, radio, web, agencies, etc.)

Public TV

Private TV

 

M

DE

M

DE

M

DE

M

DE

Age

39.20

9.03

39.58

9.20

41.56*

8.98

36.97*

8.62

Years of experience

15.51

8.54

15.96

9.00

17.88*

8.79

13.28*

7.77

Levels of trust

           

Parliament

2.90

0.99

2.79

1.00

2.74

0.9

3.06

1.07

Government

2.44

0.96

2.20

0.96

2.18*

0.89

2.69*

0.99

Political parties

2.04

0.71

1.97

0.82

2

0.6

2.08

0.81

Politicians in general

2.09

0.68

2.11

0.83

2.03

0.67

2.14

0.68

Index of trust in institutions

2.37

0.62

2.27

0.72

2.24t

0.54

2.49t

0.67

Perceived influences

         

Political influences

2.41*

0.84

2.14*

0.78

2.24

0.88

2.56

0.79

Organisational influences

3.63*

0.99

3.34*

1.02

3.38t

1.01

3.85t

0.93

Professional routine influences

3.67

0.61

3.60

0.71

3.6

0.69

3.73

0.51

Economic influences

2.90

1.00

2.84

1.00

2.41***

1.01

3.36***

0.76

Group of reference influences

2.39

0.79

2.43

0.89

2.14*

0.81

2.63*

0.7

***p<0.000; *p<0.05; tp<0.1

 

The tests revealed that the levels of trust in public institutions were similar in television journalists (M=2.37, DE=0.62) and journalists from other types of media (M=2.27, DE=0.71), t(386)= -1.095 p=0.229, BootCI95= -0.26 to 0.06. That is, there were no significant differences between the mean of trust in parliament, t(386)= -0.86 p=0.381, BootCI95= -0.377 to 0.139; government, t(386)= -1.925 p=0.054, BootCI95= -0.05 to 0.00; political parties, t(386)= -0.701 p=0.484, BootCI95= -0.27 to 0.12; and politicians in general, t(119.493)= -1.201 p=0.796, BootCI95= -0.156 to 0.207.

When we compare the levels of trust in institutions of journalists who work in public TV (M= 2.24, D=0.54) and private TV (M=2.49, DE=0.67) we find marginal differences, t(68)= 1.763, p<0.1, BootCI95= -0.02 to 0.54. This means that private TV journalists have, in principle, greater trust in public institutions than their public counterparts. When examining in further detail the indicators of this index of trust (table 3), we find that the difference between the two is significant only regarding their trust in government, t(68)= 2.334, p<0.05, BootCI95= 0.09 to 0.95, d=0.54. The size of this difference can be considered medium (Cohen, 1997) and shows that government is the institution that divides journalists the most, generating a considerably lower level of trust in public television journalists (M=2.18, DE=0.89) when compared with private television journalists (M=2.69, DE=0.99).

In relation to the influences perceived at work, we can observe that professional routine influences (M=3.67, DE=0.61) and organisational influences (M=3.63, DE=0.99) are the aspects that most intervene or modify the work of journalists, followed by economic influences (M=2.90, DE=1.00), political (M=2.41, DE=0.84) and group of reference influences (M=2.39, DE=0.79). The repeated measures ANOVA test (assuming sphericity, X2(9)=13.186, p=0.154) showed that the differences between these levels were significant, F(4.276)=57.634, p<0.000, η2p=0.455). According to the post hoc comparisons tests, differences were obtained between all types of influence, except for the cases of differences between political and group of reference influences; and between organisational and professional influences. This means that there are three distinguishable groups of influence: (i) professional and organisational (which carry more weight); (ii) economic; (iii) and political and group of reference (with less weight).

We can observe that, unlike the levels of trust, in the case of perceived influences there were several indicators that implied that influences can be perceived differently by television journalists and those from other types of media. In particular, we see that television workers perceive higher political (M=2.41, DE=0.84) and organisational influences (M=3.63, DE=0.99) when compared with workers from other types of media, for whom political (M=2.14, DE=0.78), t(384)= -2.436 p<0.05, BootCI95= -0.49 to -0,03, and organisational (M=.34, DE=1.02), t(384)= -2.144 p<0.05, BootCI95= -0.55 to -0.03, influences were significantly lower. However, as can be observed in table 3, when comparing both groups, there were no differences in the perception of professional t(384)= -0.763 p=0.399, BootCI95= -0.23 to 0.10, economic, t(384)= -0.437 p=0.662, BootCI95= -0.32 to 0.21, and group of reference, t(384)= 0.425 p=0.670, BootCI95= -0.16 a 0.25, influences.

When we compare private TV journalists with their public counterparts, we see that there were also some differences, but for different indicators than those described in the previous paragraph. The tests revealed that journalists who work in private TV perceive higher levels of economic (M=3.36, DE=0.76), group of reference (M=2.63, DE=0.7) and organisational (M=3.85, DE=093) influences, when compared with public TV professionals, who showed lower levels in their perception of economic (M=2.41, DE=1.01), t(68)= 4.490, p<0.000, BootCI95= 0.53 to 1.38, group of reference (M=2.14, DE=0.81), t(68)= 2.723, p<0.05, BootCI95= 0.13 to 0.85, and organisational (M=3.38, DE=1.01), t(68)= 2.041, p<0.1, BootCI95= -0.01 to 0.93, influences (this last difference is only marginal). The perception of political, t(68)= 1.623, p=0.108, BootCI95= -0.07 to 0.72, and professional influences, t(68)= 0.891, p=0.376, BootCI95= -0.15 to 0.42, showed no differences between the two studied groups. It should be highlighted that professional influences remained stable and that organisational influences showed differences in all comparisons, i.e. when we compare TV journalists with professionals from other types of media, as well as public and private TV journalists.

 

Table 4. Matrix of correlations between the types of perceived influences,

trust in institutions, age and years of experience

 

 

Age

Years of experience

Trust in parliament

Trust in government

Trust in political parties

Trust in politicians in general

Index of trust in institutions

Political influences

Organisational influences

Professional and procedural influences

Economic influences

Group of reference influences

Age

1.00

0.915**

-0.03

0.00

0.07

0.19

0.06

-0.305*

-0.369**

-0.08

-0.364**

-0.381**

Years of experience

0.915**

1.00

0.07

0.04

0.06

0.20

0.11

-0.276*

-0.341**

-0.05

-0.370**

-0.356**

Trust in parliament

-0.03

0.07

1.00

0.716**

0.334**

0.14

0.811**

-0.06

0.05

0.05

-0.09

0.03

Trust in government

0.00

0.04

0.716**

1.00

0.312**

0.23

0.825**

-0.14

0.03

0.01

-0.01

0.13

Trust in political parties

0.07

0.06

0.334**

0.312**

1.00

0.566**

0.694**

-0.09

-0.07

-0.01

-0.03

0.06

Trust in politicians (gral)

0.19

0.20

0.14

0.23

0.566**

1.00

0.580**

-0.23

-0.22

-0.12

-0.19

-0.13

Index of trust institutions

0.06

0.11

0.811**

0.825**

.694**

0.580**

1.00

-0.17

-0.05

-0.01

-0.10

0.05

Political influences

-0.305*

-.276*

-0.06

-0.14

-0.09

-0.23

-0.17

1.00

0.504**

0.325**

0.557**

0.322**

Organisational influences

0.369**

-0.341**

0.05

0.03

-0.07

-0.22

-0.05

0.504**

1.00

0.12

0.377**

0.295*

Professional and procedural influences

-0.08

-0.05

0.05

0.01

-0.01

-0.12

-0.01

0.325**

0.12

1.00

0.316**

0.247*

Economic influences

0.364**

-0.370**

-0.09

-0.01

-0.03

-0.19

-0.10

0.557**

0.377**

0.316**

1.00

0.452**

Group of reference influences

0.381**

-0.356**

0.03

0.13

0.06

-0.13

0.05

0.322**

0.295*

0.247*

0.452**

1.00

**p<0.001; *p<0.05

 

Finally, we can observe that levels of trust are not related to perceived influences. As can be observed in the correlation matrix for the studied variables (Table 4), there are internal associations between the indicators of our main variables (e.g. trust in government is highly correlated with trust in parliament, r=0.71, p<0.01; or organisational influences with political influences r=0.50, p<0.01), but no correlations were found between the indicators for trust in institutions and any type of perceived influence. However, it is clear that the age and years of experience are key variables to understand perceived influences (although not the level of trust in institutions), as they are higher in workers who are younger or, in other words, younger journalists with less experience have a higher probability of feeling influenced by factors in their environment.

 

4. Discussion and conclusions

The professional and sociodemographic profile of television professionals in Spain seems to be in line with that of the ‘typical’ journalist, predominantly male and young, described in previous articles (Hanitzsch, 2007). Equally consistent with scientific bibliography is the fact that public television journalists are older and therefore more experienced than their private counterparts (Piedrahita, 1995).

The decrease in trust for political institutions of television journalists is consistent with previous studies conducted in the Western world that confirm the decline of public trust in institutions (Mair, 2006; Torcal and Montero, 2006). Previous analyses reveal that the performance of political institutions and, ultimately, corruption have led to this loss of trust. Given that 81.9% of citizens in Spain currently believe that the political situation is bad or very bad, and corruption is considered one of the biggest problems, second only to unemployment (CIS, 2016), institutional theories could point towards one of the reasons for this decline. This same idea seems to be behind the results that indicate that journalists have less trust in political parties and politicians in general than in the Government and Parliament. The source of disaffection lies therefore in the political actors themselves rather than in institutions as a whole.

Although the type of media doesn´t appear to be determinant regarding the variations in the levels of trust of journalists, media ownership does present marginaldifferences, in line with previous research (Hanitzsch & Berganza, 2012; McMannus, 1994; Reich & Hanitzsch, 2013). More specifically, the differences are significant regarding the lower level of trust that public television journalists have in the Government, not surprising in light of previous studies, due to the control that the political groups of the government in power have over public audiovisual media (Humanes & Fernández Alonso, 2015; Moreno, 2007). This could translate into less freedom of the press which would have a negative impact on the trust that media professionals have in institutions (Hanitzsch & Berganza, 2012). Another explanation can be found in the greater distance that public television journalists have with regards the Government, due to a professional culture linked to the exercise of a public service (Lamuerda & Lara, 2009; Walzer & Retis, 2006).

Television journalists, on the other hand, perceive with greater incidence influences that result from their professional routine and organisational influences, rather than economic, political and group of reference influences, which falls in line with the cross-national empirical studies developed over the last few years (Hanitzsch et al., 2010; Hanitzsch & Mellado, 2011; Reich & Hanitzsch, 2013). Professionals identify better those influences that are immediate and specific to the development of their work, rather than external, more abstract factors. These results are consistent with other studies conducted on the pressures and influences that Spanish journalists experience as a result of the bad organisation of media companies, overwork and the high number of professional levels of news organisations (López Hidalgo & Ufarte Ruiz, 2013). On the other hand, the higher weight that economic influences have compared with political influences can be due to the current context of the economic and media crisis (Díaz Nosty, 2011; Ufarte, 2012) as, since the beginning of the crisis in 2008, the cumulative drop in advertising investment has reached 43% (APM, 2013).

The differences in perception of television media journalists in relation to journalists from other types of media mainly involve political and organisational influences. Regarding political differences, their higher weight in television stems from a greater regulation of this type of media due to the government licensing system (Curtin, 1999; Díaz Nosty, 2011), as well as from the use of television media, both public and private, by political powers to attract voters (Piedrahita, 1995). The greater pressure of organisational influences in television is understandable in light of previous studies that claim that its organisational structure is comparatively more hierarchical than that of the other types of media (Cook, 1998).

On the other hand, although no alterations are perceived regarding economic influences by type of media, media ownership does provide significant variations in the results. The lower presence of economic influences observed by public television journalists is related to the almost exclusive funding of RTVE by the General State Budget since 2009, year in which the law that bans paid advertising in this public entity was approved. Similarly, public media that is not part of the RTVE corporation has a mixed funding system that includes paid advertising as well as regional and local subsidies (Manfredi, 2011), which is the reason why the interference of the economic level is lower.

Media ownership also provides variations regarding the weight of groups of reference. Private media journalists had a higher perception of this level of influence probably due to their lower age and experience, so that professional peers and personal environment become points of reference for their professional performance.

In relation to the influences of professional routines, it is curious to note that they have remained stable while organisational influences have always differed. This could be due to the highly organisational nature of contemporary journalism (Altmeppen, 2008) as well as to a culture of journalistic work that is becoming increasingly similar among the different organisations (Hanitzsch, 2007). On the other hand, it seems a priori contradictory to note the absence of variations in political influences depending on the ownership of the television medium, especially when taking into account that ownership does determine differences in trust towards political institutions. However, it should be highlighted that, as confirmed by our results, there is no correlation between the levels of trust and the influences perceived. A more in-depth research on the origins of trust in political institutions would perhaps point less towards institutional theories and more towards those that refer to interpersonal trust or journalistic culture. Future inclusion of individual variables in the study, such as political ideology, could broaden our knowledge of the variability of trust of journalists in institutions.

In sum, this study shows that the levels of trust in institutions of television journalists in Spain are similar to those of their colleagues from other types of media. However, when compared internally, we see that private TV journalists have higher trust in the government than their public counterparts. In all cases, the institution that is considered most trustworthy is parliament while political parties are considered the least. Television journalists appeared a lot more influenced by political and organisational dimensions than professionals from other sectors, while private TV journalists appeared more influenced by economic aspects and groups of reference than their public counterparts. In all cases, professional routine and organisational influences (closer to the daily activity of journalists) were higher than political, economic or group of reference influences (further from their work).

These results have theoretical and practical implications. In the first place, they show how the media type and ownership are related to the perceptions of journalists regarding their own professional culture. However, these relationships, theoretically, continue to be weak or, at least, very dependent on the contexts. This suggests that further work needs to be carried out on the more consistent models that better explain the variance in the perceptions of journalists, especially when these perceptions are related to the more immediate scenarios where the professional develops his/her work, such as the political or economic scenarios. In second place, our data shows that it´s the more personal factors, i.e. professional and organisational routines, that can have higher influence on television journalists, which suggests that the media itself could reconsider its restricted routines (Randall, 1996) in order to improve the professional culture of journalists and therefore the quality of their work.

The data discussed is representative but only refers to the Spanish context. The sample of TV journalists is limited, due to the fact that it is part of a larger sample group, and therefore the results must be interpreted bearing in mind this limitation. Future research could focus on national studies aimed at probability samples of the population of TV journalists, which would provide more descriptive knowledge. Additionally, the interpretation of certain indicators such as influences of professional routines, which in our study had adequate validity and reliability, should be treated with some caution since other studies (Hanitzsch et al., 2010; Hanitzsch & Mellado, 2011) have divided this variable into professional influences and procedural influences, which can generate confusion when comparing and gathering empirical evidence. In any case, the main variables included in this research are based on previous literature, so in future research our results may contribute to synthesize their influence and effect in the study of journalistic cultures.

 

 

 

 

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[1] The concept of videomalaise has been subsequently extended to mediamalaise, as it is considered that political journalism in general, and not only television journalism is related to low levels of political trust. Therefore, and although the concept has evolved, television is still considered the starting point of the deterioration in tone and content of news, which subsequently spread to other forms of media (Mutz & Reeves, 2005).

[2] M refers to the statistical average and DE to the standard deviation.

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