Avalikud pöördumised Eesti meedias 2000-2008
The main goal of this bachelor’s thesis “Public Letters in Estonian Media 2000-2008” is to map the public letters published in Estonian media in the last nine years and to analyze the connections between the sender, the content, the addressee and the society in general. Through the research questions posed, the thesis tries to determine the role of public letters in the contemporary Estonian society – who files the public letters, on what grounds, how and to whom. The first, theoretical part of the thesis examines the definition of a civil society and brings out the means used by the members of a civil society to shape the social and political landscape that surrounds them. In addition, the thesis takes a look at the development of public letters in Estonia throughout the past 200 years. Forming a structural model of the public letters that have evolved in Estonia and bringing out their special characteristics is an important part of this research. A sample of quantitative research was created based on the structural model. It encompassed all the editions of the daily newspapers Postimees and Eesti Päevaleht between 2000 and 2008, as well as the online versions of these newspapers and the results of the Google search engine to the term “avalik pöördumine” (“public letter”). The public letters mapped in the process of working through the different channels were coded using a standardized content analysis. This made it possible to compare the results based on similar parameters. Research showed that filing public letters has become increasingly more frequent in this millennium. In the beginning of the examined period, only 3-5 public letters appeared in the Estonian media per year. In the last three years examined, the number of public letters increased to about 20-30. In total, 118 public letters were mapped in the examined 9-year period. Most often, public letters appeared on websites, especially in the last four years. However, local publications and nationwide newspapers are also important channels for public letters. The most active filers of public letters are different groups of people and occupational associations. This indicates that public letters are often used as means of civil initiative. The filers of public letters are mainly active in the fields of culture or politics. Defining oneself as a person who is active in education/science or as an ordinary citizen is slightly less frequent. The main motive for filing a public letter is a request for changes in internal politics. Another frequent reason is the concern about the social state of the community (salaries, pensions, inequality in the society etc). Public letters mainly turn to the instances in charge of ruling the country or to other addressees who have some capacity of judgement. The general public is almost always the supplementary addressee. Turning to the public serves the purpose of informing the society and is equally useful in winning over new supporters. Public letters make it possible to publicize one’s opinions on an important matter and they often demand that these opinions be taken into account in deciding such matters. In addition, public letters often ask the government to refrain from doing something that is already scheduled. This thesis is the first to examine public letters in Estonia, which is why it only managed to determine the objects and subjects of public letters in our society. The study posed a series of new questions which still need to be pondered over and answered. No farreaching conclusions can be made on the actual role of public letters in today’s society without answering these new questions. The most important of them is – what resonance do the public letters actually cause in the society? These answers will hopefully emerge from the following research papers written on this topic.