Eesti ajakirjanike töö iseloomu muutumine (1988 - 2009)



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Tartu Ülikool



Changes in the work of Estonian journalists can be defined as follows: changes in professionalism (professional training and experience, specialisation in a specific topic, professional skills); organisational changes (the division of work in the editor´s office, the relationships between the editors and the reporters, customary practices prevalent in an organisation), technological changes (technical ability, multi-skills) and the changes in freedom of professional choice (professional autonomy: the freedom to choose the topic and the point of view, the nature of control prevalent in editor’s office). The changes are especially evident in the field of professionalism. After the reign of young and inexperienced journalists (so-called juvenile reporters) there was a certain degree of professionalisation, but the last few decades have witnessed a decrease in specialisation among the journalists. They are rather oriented towards mass audience, drawing on a certain genre (news). From a professional point of view this could be seen as a setback. A closer look at the organisational changes seems to support the author’s hypothesis that editor’s offices in Estonia are editor-centered and use quite a considerable amount of control. The journalists’ workload tends to be high, whereas their freedom of choice is rather small. Moreover, the results confirmed the assumption that freedom of professional choice is less important for the journalists than before. Interviews with experts also confirmed the hypothesis that transition from the controlled system to the system of free journalism had considerably stronger influence on Estonian journalists than subsequent technological revolution. The only significant contribution of technological revolution seems to be online journalism, which has become the main tool undermining the culture of professional journalism. The new job of a web reporter has made it increasingly easy for inexperienced journalists to enter the professional field and created a new wave of juvenile journalists, which is not as numerous as in 1990s, but still there. The application of web-based approaches to newspaper-making has left its print on traditional quality requirements and customary working practices. 106 The study also confirmed the hypothesis of generation gap, which seems to be charateristic to transitional countries and divides journalists into pre-revolution and post-revolution generations. Like in other countries, it is commonly believed that the older generation follows the professional and societal values more closely, the younger generation, on the other hand, is less inclined to let the professional values interfere with their careers (Metyakova, Cisarova, 2009). Experts believe that professional culture has experienced some setbacks and a number of strong personalities have moved away from journalism. The experts describe present-day journalism and present-day journalists as “mediocre”, “loyal to their bosses”, “irresponsible”, “not interested in their main characters” and “a lot of nobodies”. Experts agree that American practices and hierarchical and controlled culture prevalent in editor’s office are editor-centered. Experts also believe that editors are in many cases technical workers who have no professional skills and whose actions are based on business logic. Some experts think that the professional quality of Estonian editors is below standard. The study also supported the assumption that format and layout have considerable influence on journalists’ thinking. As regards changes like continuous reorganisation of editorial work, the effect of economic thinking on journalism, frequent changes in design, format-centeredness, template as an agent changing journalistic thinking, the domination of routine practices over creative work (Kunelius, Ruusunoksa, 2008), dependence on format and its influence on the quality of journalism seemed to have the greatest effect. The influence of economic thinking on editor’s work is less evident for journalists, but it is still possible to experience it at the level of self-censure. In conclusion we can say that the character of Estonian journalism has undergone considerable changes, which have brought about generational differences, made the representatives of pre-revolution generation move away from journalism and created a new wave of young and inexperienced web reporters, which has resulted in deprofessionalisation. The relationships in editor’s office have become more hierarchical and more individualistic, whereas journalists have become less creative. It should be noted that transition to free journalism is not yet finished for Estonian journalists and 107 Estonian journalism, since a number of qualitative and professional values have not yet been achieved, or their development has stopped due to the economic downturn. The process of turning journalism into commercial production, or to the so-called box factories needs to be slowed down. It is high time to understand that instead of bits of information we need competent analysis and added value to the info.