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Criticism in journalism has become a core accountability instrument, especially in recent years, thanks to the Internet and Web 2.0 technology. This paper presents part of an international study of journalism ethics, focusing on Spanish journalists relationship with criticism. The paper analyzes how they express, receive and value criticism, comparing their opinions to those of journalists in the international sample. An online survey was administered to 123 Spanish journalists, from an international sample composed of 1762 professionals. Most Spanish journalists responded that they express criticism “occasionally” or “frequently”, as did their international colleagues. They especially do so through direct communication with colleagues (42.1%), even if with a lower frequency compared to the overall sample, or through online blog comments (38.8%), with a higher frequency compared to the rest of the participants. On the other hand, Spanish journalists claim to have received criticism from their supervisors (90%) and colleagues (86.6%), like the overall sample does. But they report having received a greater number of complaints than the overall sample from regulatory and self-regulatory bodies (e.g.: ombudsman 21.8%), from users/citizens (63.9%), and from the public though social media (52.9%). Finally, Spanish journalists consider the criticism they receive as less fair than does the overall sample, although they rate criticism from audience members as less unfair. The paper suggests that Spanish journalists do not employ peer criticism to the same degree as their international colleagues, but they do strongly associate the idea of transparency and accountability with their audience.
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