Policy & Politics
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Media and public accountability: typology and exploration

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  • 1 University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • | 2 Utrecht University, the Netherlands
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The role of the media in public accountability has often been discussed. This is especially the case for public sector organisations, whose accountability relations have changed in the shift from government to governance. In this paper, we develop a typology of the ways mass media are involved in public accountability processes. Media can stimulate actors to reflect on their behaviour, trigger formal accountability by reporting on the behaviour of actors, amplify formal accountability as they report on it or act as an independent and informal accountability forum. To explore the presence of these roles in practice, we focus on public sector organisations in the Netherlands. Our quantitative and qualitative analysis in the Netherlands suggests that the media primarily serve an indirect role in public accountability, either by invoking pre-emptive self-criticism in public organisations in anticipation of potential media scrutiny or by triggering formal accountability demands from MPs

  • 1 University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  • | 2 Utrecht University, the Netherlands

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