Baltic media needs to win public trust - report

Take note – story published 9 years ago

Media outlets in the Baltic states face a struggle to survive, with the majority of companies in the region yet to return to their pre-crisis revenue levels, according to Inga Springe of the Baltic Center For Investigative Journalism, Re:Baltica [and a presenter with LTV, part of the same organization as LSM] 

Presenting a report titled "The Baltic Media: Challenges, Finances and Audience During 2008-2014" at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga based on extensive analysis of company data, Springe said that 37 out of the 50 companies that directly own the 75 most popular media outlets in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have not returned to their pre-crisis levels of revenue and few are profitable.

"The healthiest media environment is in Estonia. They have higher trust in media and there is also a correlation with higher trust in government. Opinion polls show trust in media goes hand in hand [with trust in government]. In Lithuania only 10 percent of residents trust the parliament. In Latvia it's 17 percent, in Estonia 40 percent.

"It's the same when we speak about media. In Estonia people trust media more while the people most skeptical about media are in Lithuania. If people don't trust the media they also don't trust the government."

Raising this level of trust presents a key challenge, Springe said, adding that the mixing of paid-for "advertorial" content with genuine editorials poses a particular threat.

"When the crisis happened, especially in Latvia, we saw more and more hidden or paid advertisement articles appearing. When we spoke with media owners and asked 'Why are you using these hidden advertisements?' the answer was always 'But we need to survive.'"

"People are not stupid. If you use this low-quality content, people don't trust the media any more and they don't consume the media any more," Springe said.

"As journalists or media professionals in Latvia we should stand up and talk about these paid advertisements and if we are journalists, refuse to do things like that."

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