Fellows' papers now online
Dmitry Denisov has written a path-breaking study on whether new legislation or a code of practice could, or should, be applied to the relationship between business lobbyists and the government in Russia. Judith Högerl has studied the nature of the relationship between citizen journalism and press agencies.Abiye Megenta has written a paper on the effect of the Internet on democratization in Ethiopia.
Dmitry Denisov, the editor of The Business Magazine in Russia, has written a path-breaking study on whether new legislation or a code of practice could, or should, be applied to the relationship between business lobbyists and the government in Russia. In his research paper, 'Business lobbying and government relations in Russia: the need for new principles', Dmitry first lays out how the lobbying of the legislative and executive branches took off in Russia after the mass privatisation of the economy under Boris Yeltsin. He then describes three fascinating - but very different - examples of how lobbying has worked in the last few years. A chapter follows on how the two models of regulating lobbying in the UK and the USA work: the first as an example of where no specific lobbying legislation is needed because of the existence of an efficient system of anti-corruption laws and binding civil servants’ codes of conduct; the second an example of where lobbying requires a special mechanism of regulation due to the high corruption risks involved. Dmitry concludes that the current state of affairs in Russia 'looks pretty much like a vicious circle in which none of the parties involved – providers of lobbying services, clients (business) and their counterparts in government - are able to change the situation for the better even if they want to. He suggests that given such a situation, formal statutory regulation of lobbying activities similar to the one existing in the USA would seem to be the only solution.
Judith Högerl, who works at the Austria Press Agency, has studied the nature of the relationship between citizen journalism and press agencies. In her paper, 'An agency full of citizens? How news agencies cope with citizen journalism: Their concerns and strategies', Judith looks at a series of intriguing questions including: will news agencies still be the agenda-setters or do citizen journalism websites take over this role? If information can be found on the internet for free, how does this affect an agency's business model? How do news agencies cope with citizen journalism and should they develop their own projects to involve people in the news-making process? She focuses on six case studies: Thomson Reuters, the AP and the Austrian APA, the websites Wikinews, OhmyNews and Demotix. Amongst Judith's conclusions are that 'the news agencies see citizen journalism as an issue to care and think about but they are not too concerned for their business models. Although some already fear for their future, the news agencies still trust in their own strengths and power.‘However, Judith found that all three news agencies are convinced they need to be open to new opportunities so they will not miss new developments. She concludes that faced with the& information-tsunami from new media, 'their impact as agenda setters and gatekeepers will become more important than ever before.'
Abiye Megenta, an Ethiopian journalist and a Reuters fellow last year, has written a paper on the effect of the Internet on democratization in Ethiopia. Its title is 'The Internet's Democratization Effect in Authoritarianisms with Adjectives: The case of Ethiopian participatory media.' An abstract of his paper is as follows:
'Pronouncements of the internet's potency as a tool of democratizing authoritarian states are hardly unfamiliar. In this study, I explore the veracity of such claims in Ethiopia, which is ruled by a regime that displays most of the characteristics of authoritarianism, but is often labeled as semi-authoritarianism, electoral dictatorship and competitive authoritarianism. Using a maximalist conception of democracy, the study examined the impact of the country’s participatory media in expanding democratic spaces in Ethiopia. My finding suggests that while the Ethiopian government has increasingly become adept at monitoring and surveillance of the internet, the participatory media have improved the intake basin, accessibility, the capacity of filtering for political relevance and accreditation as well as synthesis of the public sphere.'