Holding the Media Accountable

Holding the Media Accountable

Citizens, Ethics, and the Law
Edited by Edited by David Pritchard
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/22/2000
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-21357-0
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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.

Author Bio

David Pritchard is a professor of journalism and mass communication at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has a Ph.D. in mass communications with a minor in law from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After receiving his doctorate in 1984, Pritchard joined the faculty of the School of Journalism at Indiana University, where he worked for nine years. Before moving into the academic world, he was a newspaper reporter in Wisconsin for seven years, working at The Freeman in Waukesha and The Capital Times in Madison.

Pritchard's teaching and research interests range from media law and ethics to political communication to Canadian journalism. He has published more than 30 scholarly articles and essays. He has been a Fulbright scholar and is a former head of the Law Division of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication.


“A timely and important book that fills a major gap in our knowledge about ethics at work in contemporary media. Contains many case studies of real-world clashes between media behavior and public accountability. ”

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction: The Process of Media Accountability
by David Pritchard
2. The Routine Nature of Journalistic Deception
by Tom Luljak
3.Why Unhappy Subjects of News Coverage Rarely Complain
by David Pritchard
4. How a Typical American Newspaper Handles Complaints
by Neil Nemeth
5. A News Ombudsman as an Agent of Accountability
by Neil Nemeth
6. Media Criticism as Professional Self-Regulation
by Kristie Bunton
7. Structural Flaws in Press Council Decision Making
by David Pritchard
8. Organized Citizen Action and Media Accountability
by Patrick O’Neill
9. Ambiguous Standards, Arbitrary Enforcement: Cable Access TV and Controversial Programming
by Lindsy Pack
10. Newspapers Use of Lawyers in the Editorial Process
by Craig Sanders
11. Helping the Press Define Its Rights and Responsibilities
by Craig Sanders
12. What Happens to Libel Cases After They’ve Been at the Supreme Court
by Eddith Dashiell