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Failing institutions, whistleblowing, and the role of the media

Mokrosinska, Dorota
Published in Journal of Applied Philosophy. 2021
Abstract The paper discusses the normative grounds for recognizing a watchdog role to the media as concerns the dissemination of information about an institutional failure menacing a well-ordered society. This is, for example, the case of the media's role in the diffusion of whistleblowers' disclosures. We argue that many popular justifications for the watchdog role of the media (the 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 media special as concerns the performance of the role. We offer an alternative argument that shows how the watchdog role of the 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 media, we concede that in some contingent circumstances the 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 media's responsibility in this sense is an empirical, not a conceptual or a normative matter.
Keywords MediaMedia ethicsWhistleblowingCorruptionAnticorruptionWatchdog
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CEVA, Emanuela, MOKROSINSKA, Dorota. Failing institutions, whistleblowing, and the role of the media. In: Journal of Applied Philosophy, 2021. https://archive-ouverte.unige.ch/unige:141229

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Deposited on : 2020-09-14

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