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Media Accountability: Global Trends and European Monitoring Capabilities

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Abstract:  This article summarises the global state of the art of research into media accountability, using this overview as a framework for an analysis of 14 European countries’ structures and the possibilities for monitoring their media accountability landscapes. The first step shows that a model developed purely in the context of liberal Western democracies struggles to explain the diversity of media accountability instruments, actors, proceedings, and the effectiveness of these systems in different countries. When a broad understanding of media accountability is applied, different models of media accountability frameworks can be identified globally, and even within Europe. These findings on structures and actors in the field function as guidelines for the second part of the article, which analyses monitoring capabilities in Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Sweden—with a special focus, not only on the status quo, but also the capability to monitor changes and trends over time. Even in countries with generally well-developed monitoring and research structures in the media sector, much of the available literature focuses on normative questions, and available data is not necessarily comparable longitudinally or cross-nationally. International efforts have inspired key publications in a number of countries, but they are rarely followed up by continuous monitoring of developments in the field. Several cases describe a common reason for monitoring deficits: Weak professional culture among journalists leads to ineffective and often neglected media accountability measures, which in turn limits research activity and funding opportunities.

Keywords:  co-regulation; journalism ethics; media accountability; monitoring capabilities; self-regulation

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.7256


© Marcus Kreutler, Susanne Fengler. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.