WP6Media and corruption

This work package is led by the University of Perugia. It undertakes a survey on the normative constraints of corruption. It investigates how corruption is reflected in the media, what trends emerge in corruption coverage and how are they related with international and national strategies against corruption. Mass media themselves (as well as individual journalists) may be corrupted or play an active role in a power game based on instrumentalisation as they may be part of corruption practices and habits. At the same time, the way in which corruption news is covered (or hidden) may foster or delay a culture of legality. When media is captured in systemic corruption it fails to play the key role in accountability that anti-corruption strategies presume.

This work package starts by an overall quantitative content analysis (using the Lexis Nexis database and online newspapers) meant to understand changes in media agendas in the countries involved in this project. It examines the place of corruption on the agenda and how mass media have covered corruption stories and seek to understand the particular role that journalists play. It then attempts to explain the results by systematically asking these questions to key stakeholders in the form of semi-structured interviews. The questions to be investigated are: How is corruption dealt with in the international, national and regional press? To what extent are corruption scandals on the political level exposed and who gets the blame for them? How partisan is the media coverage of political corruption and is media sufficiently corruption-free to play the accountability role attributed to it by anti-corruption strategies?

This work package provides the first assessment on the vulnerability of the media itself to corruption, explaining under what circumstances the media can play its expected role of bolstering normative constraints. Case studies on corruption involving journalists in different countries are selected and analysed in depth.