Freedom in daily work is important for nearly all journalists in the three countries. It is the second most important factor in choosing the place of work, according to the survey. A degree of autonomy is also an important part of self-perception of journalists in their professional roles and closely related to job satisfaction (Weaver and Willnat, 2012:534).
But there are also clear differences between journalists in how big this perceived autonomy is in daily work. There are different kinds of pressure from outside and inside the media company – pressure from lack of time and formats of the media, constraints within the organization, political and commercial pressure. There is also a media development challenging the professional identity of journalists; journalistic work is undergoing fundamental changes – transitioning from a monologue to more of dialogue with the audience, with new tools and media formats introducing new kinds of expressions. Increasing commercialization and fragmentation of the media landscape are changing the foundations on which journalism rests (Deuze, 2007; Mitchelstein and Boczkowski, 2009; Singer et al., 2011).
One may assume that all these changes influence the degree of professional autonomy for journalists. But the direction is not obvious; some changes, like strong commercialization might put pressure on the degree of autonomy, but others might work in another direction; for example it is possible that technological development can both increase perceived autonomy, giving journalists more tools and a stronger position, but also limit the autonomy in an increasing demand to produce more and faster.
The purpose of this chapter is to study how perceived autonomy in daily work is related to factors on a different level, from the individual level of journalist, the position of the journalist within the media organization and to the level of media system. This analysis is also related to media development, both technological and commercial factors. From this, perceived professional autonomy is related to different kinds of media systems with various degrees of political and commercial pressure on journalism.
This allows one to raise three research questions:
RQ1: What are the differences and similarities between the three countries and media systems when it comes to professional autonomy?
RQ2: What are the most important factors explaining differences in perceived autonomy on three different levels – the individual, organizational and societal level?
RQ3: How are these factors influenced by media development? What is giving stronger or weaker perceived autonomy?
Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Publishing Group, 2015. 119-152 p.