How the media talks about corruption in Romania. RAS’s report on “Media & corruption” published

The quantitative and qualitative research reports produced within Work Package 6: Media and corruption have been published. These investigate the manner in which four newspapers in seven countries (France, United Kingdom, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Romania and Slovakia) have covered the news related to corruption and other similar topics over a period of ten years (2004 – 2013). This is a very extensive analysis with a total number of 183,491 articles analysed through a computer assisted content analysis and 12,742 articles further examined by human coders.

RAS concentrated on how 4 Romanian newspapers (România Liberă, Jurnalul Național, Libertatea, Ziarul Financiar) covered the topic of corruption from 2009 to 2013 (the shorter selection period for the CACA analysis on Romania was due to the lack of data for 2004-2008). The methodology used was quantitative content analysis which focused on press articles that contained 9 key words concerning the corruption phenomenon. The selected articles were analysed through the Computer Assisted Content Analysis method (CACA) while a sample was examined through the Human Assisted Content Analysis (HACA) method.

The exploratory CACA method measured both the frequency and avoidance rate of the 9 key words as well as any linguistic associations (words, names of individuals, institutions and countries) for each of the 4 selected newspapers from 2009-2013. The HACA method focused on a more detailed analysis of CACA results: it aimed to identify the main topics tackled, the sources used, the typology of actors taking part in acts of corruption, the objects of corrupt transactions, opinion impartiality and so on.

The full CACA report on Romania is available here

Among the highlights of the CACA analysis on Romania:

  • The most frequently used words found in the 4.628 reviewed press articles of the four newspapers (România Liberă, Jurnalul Național, Libertatea and Ziarul Financiar) used for this report were: “corruption”, “bribe” and “kickback”.
  • The most resounding names associated with the term “corruption” are representative of just three domains: politics, sports and economy.
  • Traian Băsescu, Adrian Năstase, and Victor Ponta were the most visible political figures in corruption related articles published by these newspapers.
  • The relatively low number of articles/investigations on corruption can be explained by the fact that there are a few journalists who specialize on the topic of corruption as a phenomenon. Therefore, corruption is not a theme in itself but an integral part of news stories covered by journalists who usually focus on other fields (criminal justice system, health, education, police, etc.).

The full HACA report on Romania is available here

Among the highlights of the HACA analysis on Romania:

  • 19.4% of the articles focused on the agent (the person receiving the bribe/bribed) as a primary subject in the news.
  • In cases where the types of transactions (one or several) underpinning the corrupt act(s) could be determined, the most frequently exchanged items between agents and clients were licenses, certifications, offices in various public institutions (29/5.2%), public procurement contracts (26/4.7%), and the abatement of negative consequences resulting from unannounced inspections (21/3.8%).
  • Ziarul Financiar and România Liberă were the two newspapers that reported the most on international corruption cases and Italy, USA, Russia and China were most often mentioned.
  • The petty corruption phenomenon was reflected in news articles dealing with public administration in sectors such as the police, customs, universities, hospitals, etc.  Prosecutorial state institutions were the main generators of news on corruption since information put forward contained data on police investigations, arrests or detention and trials/lawsuits.
  • Libertatea’s news articles on corruption mainly concerned cases of bribery in two different fields: sports and public administration. In comparison, Ziarul Financiar presented corruption more as a general phenomenon. In the case of România Liberă, most articles on corruption present cases referring to bribery in public administration, embezzlement and abuse of power in various economic sectors. Nonetheless, the highest number of news articles on abuse of power in public administration was published in the quality newspaper Jurnalul Naţional

The executive summary for the content analysis is available here

The executive summary for the main findings through the CACA analysis is available here

The methodology for the CACA analysis is available here 

The methodology for the HACA analysis is available here

The full reports on the other countries are available here

An analysis on the use of metaphors in the national press from the seven countries is available here

The ANTICORRP project is financed through the European Commission’s 7th Framework Programme and it aims to investigate and explain the factors that promote or halt the development of effective and impartial anticorruption policies.

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