Emanuela Ceva
Université de Genève
Dorota Mokrosinska
Leiden University
The paper discusses the normative grounds for recognizing a watchdog role to the news media as concerns the dissemination of information about an institutional failure menacing a well-ordered society. This is, for example, the case of the news media’s role in the diffusion of whistleblowers’ disclosures. We argue that many popular justifications for the watchdog role of the news media (as a ‘fourth estate’; a trustee of the people’s right to know; expert communicator) fail to ground that role in some unique feature that makes the news media special as concerns the performance of the role. We offer an alternative argument that shows how the watchdog role of the news media shares a justificatory ground with the role that any member of a well-ordered society has in terms of a general duty of answerability in the face of institutional failures. Although this duty does not bear only on the news media, we concede that in some contingent circumstances the news media might be better positioned to discharge it and, therefore, to initiate corrective actions of institutional failures effectively and conscientiously. However, the establishment of the news media’s responsibility in this sense is an empirical, not a conceptual or a normative matter.
Keywords News Media  Media ethics  the watchdog role of the media  accountability   answerability   well-ordered society   interactive justice  answerability   well-ordered society   interactive justice  well-ordered society  interactive justice
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DOI 10.1111/japp.12476
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