The past decade has seen an explosion of writing about media ethics and accountability. Most of the work has been focused on the normative side of the subject: ethical philosophies, ethics codes, suggestions for how journalists (and other media workers) can make justifiable decisions when faced with tough ethical questions.
Empirical research into media ethics and accountability, by contrast, is hard to find. Relatively little of the past decade’s work–and virtually none of the book-length treatments of the subject–focus on how media accountability works in practice. The gap in practical knowledge is somewhat puzzling, given that most faculty who teach media ethics and accountability work in academic departments that have professional training as part of their academic mission.
The underlying assumption of Holding the Media Accountable is that systems of norms such as media law and journalism ethics have meaning only in the context of the actual workings of mechanisms of accountability. No other volume has adopted such an approach.