Scientific article

Failing Institutions, Whistle-Blowing, and the Role of the News Media

Published inJournal of Applied Philosophy, vol. 39, no. 3, p. 377-392
Publication date2022

The article discusses the normative grounds for recognising 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 whistle-blowers’ 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.

  • Media
  • Media ethics
  • Whistleblowing
  • Corruption
  • Anticorruption
  • Watchdog
Citation (ISO format)
CEVA, Emanuela, MOKROSINSKA, Dorota. Failing Institutions, Whistle-Blowing, and the Role of the News Media. In: Journal of Applied Philosophy, 2022, vol. 39, n° 3, p. 377–392. doi: 10.1111/japp.12476
Main files (1)
Article (Accepted version)
ISSN of the journal0264-3758

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