I. Introduction This master’s thesis represents study of female newspaper and magazine editors in Azerbaijan based on Western and Soviet definitions of journalism with explanation of local national features of this p



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III.2.5 Chapter Summary

To talk about journalism is easier from afar than from up close, where many interconnected and sometimes contradiction elements come together. In the empirical chapter we presented results of tried to analyze female editors’ responses and answer our research questions. The focus of this research was to map community of female editors and research their ethical and value orientations. The first subchapters allowed us to formulate who are the female editors of Azerbaijan in terms of their education and personal characteristics like age, marital status, number of children, years of experience. The resulting map of the female editorial landscape showed us significant difference of this ethos from the male editors. Majority of female gate-keepers constitute editors that are university educated journalists in their majority possessing journalistic education and with long years of media experience under their belts. As it was pointed out in the subchapter III.1.7 selected Azerbaijani editors view their professional specialization and assess their role and influence in Azerbaijani society differently from their male counterparts. In comparison to male colleagues female editors manage their newspapers/magazines with a balanced or neutral stance towards political scene of Azerbaijan due to the fact that female editorship niche lies exclusively in semi-independent or pro-government newspapers as well as in non-political magazines aimed at specific auditoriums.


Based on our analysis of empirical data we can also state that female editors view themselves to be elite even though low financial status causes the less experienced editors to show lower self-esteem and regard their influence in the society as arbitrary. On the other hand, since majority of our respondents are experienced and thus over the years better known in the society they consider themselves capable of influencing major political actors.
Receiving their journalistic education during the Soviet era female editors still see themselves as missionaries or teachers whose prerogative is to enlighten, educate and inform public of positive development in the country. Yet, the main source of their professional ethical behavior is neither obedience to endorsed ethical codes nor their journalistic education but the Azerbaijani mentality that they were brought up as girls at home, their own moral culture and reproduction of rules once set by their experienced colleagues accepted by the respondents as their role models.
As it was mentioned above, female editors congregate in either independent, semi-indpendent, government or government-sponsored non-political press damping negative trends of political instrumentalization. It is also obvious that in comparison to the male editors (Valiyev 2008) female professionals have better preview over processes in Azerbaijani media community, most notably they provided better overview of such processes as deprofessionalization and proletarization in the key described by Hallin and Mancini (2004) in their Mediterranean type as well as Volek (2007) in the case of Czech journalists. Moreover, that the trend of proletarization caused by financial strains is growing in Azeri media community, something that male editors did not reflect upon. Female editors on the other hand point out that journalists are under constant financial stress and poor economical conditions push out the old professionals that are substituted by untutored and journalistically uneducated young generation.
That being said, we receive answer to our next question. Even though female editors in their majority acknowledge capacity of professional organizations to enforce professional standards yet, from their answers we can derive that existing professional organizations in Azerbaijan fail to control, test and educate new generations of journalists resulting in farther fragmentation of the spectrum and deepening processes of deprofessionalization and proletarization of Azerbaijani journalists. The female gate-keepers perceive those institutions as lobby groups for government subventions or in case of opposition-inclined editors as means to extend political struggle against current political regime yet completely neglecting function of journalistic organizations to create and enforce professional standards. Farther inquiry into the question shows that when it comes to professional organizations, none of the selected female journalists associates herself with specific female professional organizations like for example Azerbaijan Woman Journalist Association. The results provided in this subchapter, allow us to state that with some minor exceptions, selected female journalists are not involved in current polarization of journalistic spectrum in Azerbaijan taking rather a stance of neutral observers.
In case of objectivity our research yielded interesting results. The practice of female editors in our opinion is a transitional form that incorporates features of the Soviet and the Western models of objectivity with a significant tilt towards national mentality adaptation. The existence of the Soviet objectivity is mainly caused by its core values linked to education the editors received during the Soviet Union while Western model is mainly the result of transition efforts that are being made by the journalistic community after the break up of the Soviet Union and are reflected in the Ethical code of the Press Council. To summarize, the post-Soviet Azerbaijani objectivity model of the Azerbaijani female editors is neither the senile classical form described by Inkeles (1950) nor it is the “unrestrained” wild post-Soviet Russian version described by Richter (2007).
IV. Editor Typology

Following the lead established by the previous two chapters we feel necessity to answer our main question and provide typology of the selected editors according to their attitudes and practices. However, the typology that we blended in our 2008 research using typology by Eva Souhradova (2002) and Juskevits (2001) due to certain homogeneity among our current research population has its limitations and needs to be revised. First of all the most significant difference between male and female editors constitutes missing (except ex-editor N.Y. that worked in oppositional newspaper) political divide among female editors. Thus, we have to make small adjustments to the existing typology of Azerbaijani editors (Valiyev 2008) in order to anchor the female editors within its frame.


Table 8. Types of Editors

TYPES

CHARACTERISTICS

RESPONDENTS



IDEALIST PRACTITIONER

Politically independent, has own position and style, has specific or closely related education based on the Soviet education system, has inborn talent and orients on practice and experience, respects neutrality and balance, deems professional organization necessary though stresses that currently they are not respected, has general understanding of professional

Editors: 7+1 ex-editor


Newspapers: Baki Xeber, Edalet, Gancabasar, Hefte ici, Xalq Cebhesi, Yenilesen Azerbaycan
Magazines: Yol, Hurdzun

PRAGMATIC

PRACTITIONER

Has potential to be politically influenced; works in a government-funded or owned by one of political actors newspaper/magazine; mixes opinion with facts if necessary/ordered to achieve political goals, possesses technique and talent, lacks specific education in journalism, respects professional organization conditionally depending on political situation; deems ethics necessary but there is possibility that will discard it if necessary

Editors: 2+1 ex-editor

Department editor: 1


Newspapers:

Avropa,, Tibb, Azerbaycan
Magazines:

Milli Maclis


OLD-SCHOOL PROFESSIONAL

Old, very experienced, talented, communicative, has specific education based on the Soviet journalism school. Has extensive practice and experience in Soviet media. Understands objectivity as correctness to policy of ruling elite. Respects and cooperates with central journalistic organization, knows and understands ethical norms however will deviate if necessary.

Editors: 2


Newspapers:

Vyshka, , Gancanin sesi,


V. Discussion

Numerous scholars within the Western academia took close looks at how females view the journalism, particularly “internal view” on the profession and women’s role in it. On the contrary, gender studies in the Soviet Union were limited to the Marxist ideology that saw causes of female inequality in capitalism and class inequalities. The disintegration of the USSR and rise of nationalist ideologies based on Azerbaijani mentality and traditions and subsequent war against Armenian occupation of Karabakh region of Azerbaijan introduced decline of female social and political activism and their retirement from public sphere to their “natural vocations” answering gender stereotypes created by the patriarchal society. The return of the gender question was evident by the end of the 1990s when independent women’s groups formed within NGOs and supported by international donor organizations raised gender questions, however, initially limited to violence against women and sexual harassment. The movement paved the road for application of Western concepts in a new wave of studies focusing on different aspects of female activities in Azerbaijani society.


Presented thesis represents third attempt to map female journalists working in Azerbaijani media. The first attempt represented the 2010 publication “Elegant signatures” by the Azerbaijan Journalist Women Association where the above mentioned organization compiled and published biographical details of known female Azerbaijani journalists. The second research is a result of collaboration between the International Journalist Federation and Azerbaijan Journalists Union within a two year project (2010-2012) aiming to map female journalist community and involving 200 journalist respondents. Findings of the surveys implemented by the two organizations manifested in a form of a 43 pages long leaflet “Gender question in Azerbaijani media” printed in 2011.

It is possible to argue that our research, although implemented with a much smaller budget and in a shorter time frame brings more representative results through better methodology, conceptualization and sample selection. Even though the 2011 survey states that only 10 out of 90 editors are women (JuHI 2011:4-5) our research through the purposive sampling technique was able to secure participation of 15 female newspaper and magazine editors. In contrast to the second research, our third in the row did not limit itself to descriptive journalistic interviews with editors but through analysis of structured in-depth interviews presented a typology of female editors in Azerbaijani printed press: idealist practitioner, pragmatic practitioner and old-school professional.


Yet, our strength is also our limitation since the results of our research cannot be applied to all female journalists in Azerbaijan representing only the slim editorial segment of female journalistic community working in printed daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly and bimonthly newspapers and magazines with circulation numbers above 1500 copies.
Moreover, the financial burden also dictated our selection of qualitative over quantitative methodology resulting in dominance of the in-depth interview technique above the rudimentary quantitative questionnaire used to collect additional demographic data. On the other hand, decision to employ several young female interviewers that managed to built trust and conduct in-depth interviews simultaneously ensuring return of filled out questionnaires by female editors brought fruitful results.
All of this is not to say that the research did not meet any complications on its way. One of the biggest challenges was adaptation of the research conceived within walls of Masaryk University located in the Central Europe to the reality of Azerbaijan, the country possessing different culture and traditions. For example as it was mentioned in the Subchapter II.3.1 the cultural incompatibility made itself clear as soon as the first respondent was approached and thoughtfully conceived in-depth interview brought only disappointing series of dull yes and no answers since researcher did not consider cultural differences in implementation of questioning of a woman by male interviewer.
Even though this problem was later solved through employment of young female interviewers the main problem remained: some questions considered standard procedure in the West found no response in Azerbaijan. For example a standard question regarding stances towards abortion used to measure general values of respondents was not even considered during the research project preparation since researcher did not expect to receive answers for this question from the respondents.
Nevertheless, we consider that the inquiry successfully achieved the main goal it proclaimed providing answer to the main question of our research through elaborate typology creating a useful insight on the small community of women editors that exist in Azerbaijan. Moreover, while answering to the secondary questions of the research we first of all mapped this segment of female journalist community, provided information on female editor’s stances towards ethical self-regulation and journalistic organizations in Azerbaijan, placed female editors within the context of the Azerbaijani society and pinpointed their influence as members of elite.
Rendering female editors of newspapers and magazines our inquiry provides an inspiration for farther scholars to carry on the effort of pioneering media research in Azerbaijan. It is fair to say that a good research should create more questions that it answers and this is the case for our research as well. During the course of our research we discovered that female editors represent highly trained and experienced caste of journalists, however, as soon as this discovery was formulated a reasonable question appeared: what is the relationship between these old-school professionals and female journalists currently working in all positions below the editorial office. Do female editors exert influence on their younger and less experienced female subordinates and if yes, how does their appointment change work of newspaper or magazine in terms of male-female relationship?
Of particular interest for farther research is the phenomenon of extortion journalism in Azerbaijan. Our research extended findings on this trend by discovering that extortionist journalism was not just a product of the post-Soviet decline in professional values and morale but existed well before the collapse of the Soviet Union and perhaps existed as soon as Azerbaijan was introduced to the press.
Yet, the most fruitful direction of farther research is a comparative research of female editors in neighboring countries of Georgia and Armenia. Possessing different cultural values, caused mainly by religious differences , these societies nevertheless are built upon the same Caucasian cornerstone - strongly patriarchal family. Thus, due to non existence of data it is first of all necessary to ask: What types of female editors in regard to professional standards exist in Georgian and Armenian printed newspapers and magazines? Besides obvious secondary questions that will be given it is also interesting to research: How female editors of these three countries are interacting and what are their common values?

In our opinion such extensive area research, if implemented, will not only extend global academic knowledge to this area of the world but will also have its practical implications if comparing media systems of three countries.



VI. Summary

The premises of this research was to explore female editorial community consisting of newspaper and magazine editors in Azerbaijan and map their ethical and value orientations in order to answer the main question of this research: What types of female editors exist in regard to professional standards? With that goal in mind this thesis focused on stances of the selected gatekeepers and reviewed their stances on professional ethics and ethical self-regulation in media as well as scrutinized the question of how does media managers solved ethically problematic situations and evaluated their own influence in Azerbaijani society. Yet, the most valuable was answering questions on differences between male and female editors through a comparison of those findings with the findings that we received in 2008 while researching male editors in Azerbaijan.


The first two questions to be addressed were: how female editors perceive their influence in Azerbaijani society and if they experience any differences between them and their male colleagues. Leading this line of inquiry in the context of the post-Soviet Azerbaijan the research revealed that female editors not only exist but represent more educated (53% posses journalistic education) and more experienced (41-11 years of practice) journalistic ethos than their male colleagues causing their high level of self-esteem. Moreover, in comparison with politically divided and instrumentilized male colleagues, female editors congregate predominantly in independent, semi-independent newspapers and magazines as well as in non-political newspapers/magazines aimed at specific auditoriums. High self-esteem declines when contrasted with low financial status causing less experienced editors to doubt their influence in the society. However, old and experienced female editors are better known to the public and the ruling elite accepts them as valuable assets resulting in their transformation into a part of modern nomenklatura. However, while positively evaluating their role in the Azerbaijani society, female editors underscored that they have to constantly fight the symbolic annihilation implemented through stereotypes created by the patriarchal Azerbaijani society as well as male bias represented by “male jealousy” at their work places. Particularly valuable was an array of responses where female editors reflected on their job satisfaction and motivation.
Among noticeable findings for example we can mention the fact that female editors stated that journalism profession was less accessible for females during the Soviet Union than in modern days. On one hand it contradicts the trend propagated by the communist ideology on other hand, however, this finding receives confirmation by Pasti’s research of St. Petersburg journalists where respondents from the post-Soviet Russia confirm that “in the Soviet era there were fewer female journalists than male journalists”. (Pasti 2007:215) The present media system according to editors that came to the profession after the Independence on the contrary gives females more opportunities to be successful journalist. However, the devaluation of professional standards that brought transition from the Soviet type to the Western type of media system presented such negative trends as deprofessionalization and proletarization of journalists. Situation where many journalists earn average of 167 manats per month44 and still lack job contracts discourages talented people with journalistic education to work as professional journalists and attracts individuals less educated but willing to work under this conditions. Necessity to survive as well as to fulfill political order of their sponsors leads Azerbaijani media to abandonment of professional autonomy and diminishes respect of auditorium that constitutes itself in low readership base and thus low circulation numbers. Related trend can be traced in other post-Soviet inquiries such as Richter’s research of Russian media or Volek and Jirak’s of the Czech media landscape. In each case the “…process of deprofessionalization is directly connected with the lowering of professional standards and criteria to enter journalistic community or in other words continuous resignation on elementary professional standards”. [Volek, 2006]
That being said the second set of questions reviewed was: how do the female editors perceive ethical self-regulation in journalism and what are their stances towards journalistic professional organizations? In terms of ethical code knowledge female editors are well behind their male colleagues and do not follow development of media self regulations norms. Only few of the selected females posses normative knowledge of ethical codes, however even those few were not able to define closer what norms those codes instill. On the other hand interviews that we have conducted definitely allow us to say that Azerbaijani female editors are influenced by national mentality and stereotypes of feminine behavior in Islamic culture and rely on years of journalistic practice and clichés that are connected to it. The editors proclaim that they believe in importance of codified ethical norms and yet when it comes to practice those codes remain a handy accessory. In-depth interviews revealed that the editors posses rather intuitive than categorized knowledge of journalistic ethics. Only one of the female editors said that ethical code exists in Azerbaijan and even that editor was not sure saying it in a form of a question. , prefer to use norms that they were taught while receiving their education in the Soviet Union as well as follow conduct procedures that they learnt from old-school professionals when they started to work.
Following the tradition editors in their newspapers try to enlighten and educate reader while evading substantial criticism of the political regime. The analysis of answers received allowed us to conclude that even though female editors declare that professional organizations should create and enforce professional standards among journalist in practice they do not rely on the organizations and act according to their own best knowledge and work experience. The distrust is mirrored in dominating ignorance of the membership in professional organizations including male dominated Press Council or the Union of Azerbaijan Journalists as well as female professional organization Azerbaijan Woman Journalist Association. One of the reasons why professional organizations have low influence is the reality where all prominent journalistic organizations involved in promotion of ethical standards in Azerbaijan are male dominated and leave female editors only the role of followers. Unwilling to be pressed in a clash of polarized and politically biased professional organizations female editors embrace isolation or a bystander position that leads to the persistent alienation of this ethos to professional organizations. Complications surrounding legitimacy of professional journalistic organizations lead to a state where female editors ignoring professional organizations are also unaware of ethical norms that those organizations produce and promote.
The last two questions to be discussed were: do female journalists use ethical codes to solve ethical dilemmas and what are differences between ethical approaches of female and male journalists in Azerbaijan? As it was already mentioned above Azerbaijani female editors do not enforce ethical codes in their newspapers/magazines. Yet when it comes to ethically dilemmatic situations majority of female editors manage to comply with practices stipulated in the local ethical code of the Press Council. Brief glance at the Ethical Code provided in the Appendix provides explanation: the code consists of widely defined ethical norms that match basic practices that the editors learned during their practice.
It is also comforting to say that there are some differences between ethical approaches of female and male journalists in Azerbaijan. We already mentioned once that Azerbaijani female editors are highly trained professionals with extensive experience that work predominantly in independent, semi-independent or government-funded but narrowly oriented newspapers and magazines. This neutral zone allows this editorial segment to practice journalism that is relatively free from political instrumentilization so common for male operated editors and allows them to manage their offices according to their professional judgment and universal ethical norms. When a female editor runs across an ethical dilemma she relies predominantly on herself rather than ethical code and does not consult colleagues as do, from time to time her male colleagues. Another sharp distinction between men and women: from their interviews we can derive that female editors while making a decision are more ethically cautious and morally developed than their male counterparts.
Logically answering all of these questions brought our inquiry to the point where based on the answers of the selected fourteen female editors we had to answer the main research question: What types of female editors in regard to professional standards exist in Azerbaijani printed newspapers and magazines. Using slightly modified editor typology devised in our 2008 research we divided 14 editors into three categories (See table 8): the idealist practitioner, the pragmatic practitioner and the old-school professional. The main difference with the male editors’ typology is that journalistic education was not reserved only to the old-school professional category but was spread evenly between the three types. In addition, editors placed in the category pragmatic practitioner were assigned there on the basis of their workplace (government funded newspapers and a magazine) rather than on the basis of their answers since work in government owned or funded newspaper/magazine always carries potential that editor will be forced to leave ethical norms and join politically instrumentilized frenzy.

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