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TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION........................................................................................................................2 MEDIA WATCHDOG GROUPS................................................................................................3 THE ROLE OF MEDIA WATCHDOGS...................................................................................6 THE ROLE OF MEDIA IN DEMOCRACY...............................................................................6 ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES AND THE WATCHDOG ROLE:..............................................................................6 WATCHDOG ROLE FOR BETTERMENT OF SOCIETY:....................................................................................7 WATCHDOG ROLE FOR CORPORATE SECTOR:...........................................................................................7 WHAT WE CAN DO?..................................................................................................................8 WHAT GOVERNMENTS CAN DO.........................................................................................10 CONCLUSION:..........................................................................................................................11 REFERENCE:............................................................................................................................11

Introduction
Media Watchdogs
Meaning of Word Watchdog:
A guardian or defender against theft or illegal practices or waste; "she is the global watchdog for human rights abuses". A person or organization guarding against illegal practices, unacceptable standards, or inefficiency

A watchdog group is any part of government or an interest group whose job, formally or informally, is to review and publicize what other parts of government and groups are doing, raising a public alarm when something is amiss. Though some government agencies are specifically created to serve as watchdogs (e.g., public auditors, the Texas Sunset Commission, special governmental investigative committees), in the world of interest groups watchdogs are self-appointed. The mass media is often seen as a governmental or corporate watchdog when it investigates and reports, but its watchdog role is informal and haphazard. Other groups such as Texans for Public Justice, the Consumers Union, Judicial Watch, Media Watch, or the Center for Responsive Politics scrutinize parts of the political, economic, or social system and disseminate their findings to the public, often with calls for action. The role of journalism has evolved to include its function as a watchdog of the government, meaning that journalists are expected to investigate when elected officials abuse the rights and freedoms of average people. "To journalists, it is self-evident that investigative reporting informs the public, exposes corruption, and rights wrongs, Some national media, including mainstream newspapers, cable networks, and news broadcasts, tend to make objectivity or fairness the ultimate news value because that's what their audiences expect. Magazines, newsletters, and other media may have different news values -- advocacy of an idea, such as human rights or family values, or the promotion of an industry, such as fashion or automobiles. The media owner decides what the news values will be.

Media Watchdog Groups


Those criticizing the media have values and agendas as well. Knowing the critic's values helps the reader understand the perspectives, interpretations, and even "spin" (meaning interpretation) that the critic takes in analyzing the media. Some of the toughest critics may be those inside the profession, who may be most aware of the ethical decisions and practices of their colleagues, but even they base their criticism on values reflected in the news industry.

Watchdog Groups outside the Industry


The headlines in articles and mission statements can provide some clues as to the political agenda of a media watchdog group, even if the name of the group appears to be that of a neutral observer. Other watchdog groups focus criticism on the expanding wealth and influence of corporate conglomerates. Again, their names sound neutral, but their agendas are clearly stated. Information provided by these types of watchdog groups and the analysis offered may be helpful in interpreting media coverage, but readers must be aware of underlying assumptions and biases in story selection and criticism. Other watchdog groups focus criticism on the expanding wealth and influence of corporate conglomerates. Again, their names sound neutral, but their agendas are clearly stated. The Media Channel reports in its mission statement, "More than ever before, we are living in a media age and a media world. Nine transnational conglomerates dominate the global media; multibillion-dollar deals are concentrating this power even further. Yet we are also experiencing a technological revolution. The vitality of our political and cultural discourse relies on a free and diverse media that offers access to everybody."

Criticism from Inside the Media Industry


Journalism reviews act as media watchdogs inside the industry. These reviews are primarily written by media professionals for media professionals, are housed at universities, and do not claim to hold a particular perspective on the news or a specific agenda for its transformation. These commentators provide an inside perspective and interpretation that reflects the values of the mainstream industry -- First Amendment protection, truth and accuracy, and balanced reporting. "In this country the press is the oxygen of democracy," Hoyt said in an interview. "To the extent that the press is vigilant, that's how well society works. We see our job as encouraging and inspiring the press to do its important work well."

These commentators provide an inside perspective and interpretation that reflects the values of the mainstream industry -- First Amendment protection, truth and accuracy, and balanced reporting. Media professionals in the United States are more likely to take criticism from a journalism review to heart than from media watchdogs with political agendas, Hoyt said, because the review offers an "outsider's" perspective from industry insiders.

Criticism from News Councils


Numerous journalists and journalism organizations have attempted or at least actively considered setting up news councils to arbitrate disputes between journalists and the people they cover. The National News Council, modeled after its English cousin the British News Council, lasted just a little more than a decade, closing down in 1984. In handling disputes, council members attempt first to bring news managers and those who believe they have been harmed by news stories together for discussion. Often this resolves the conflict. Fewer than 8 percent of those filing complaints ultimately request a hearing before the 12member council, comprising six journalists and six citizens at large. But news councils also stir their share of controversy. Some believe forming such councils threatens First Amendment freedoms by centralizing journalistic standards, while others want to avoid interpreting a colleague's motives. "If somebody feels we've done something wrong, they can talk to us directly, or they have recourse in the courts," Stanley Hubbard, chief executive officer, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 1996. "I don't want to be in a situation where panels of people are sitting in judgment on our judgment." Despite these concerns, news councils offer a much-needed opportunity for the public to interact with and offer criticism of the media, Geneva Overholser, former Washington Post ombudsman now on faculty at the University of Missouri, said in a Columbia Journalism Review article last February. "We can ill afford to pass up any decent opportunity to hold ourselves accountable, and to help the public understand all that we do to uphold our principles and to get our facts straight," Overholser said.

Criticism from Professional Organizations


Professional organizations assist journalists in improving skills and in making legal challenges when their First Amendment rights are in question. The Radio and Television News Directors Association publicly applauded the U.S. Court of Appeals decision to allow live audio of oral arguments in the case of United States versus Microsoft . Officers of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) regularly speak out against government intervention into the daily work of journalists. The value that these organizations place on journalistic freedom is evident in the criticism, praise, and even financial support they supply. These same organizations also may create codes of ethics that help guide journalists' professional practice. When journalists break the codes, the organizations may occasionally state opposition to the violation. This criticism is based on the assumption that news organizations should autonomously seek out and verify information rather than rely on contracted services. The value of acting independently provides a foundation for challenging the news judgments of journalists. Direct investigations and condemnations of inadequate reporting by industry insider organizations are rare, however. "If this (poor professional practice) were happening in any other profession or power center in American life, the media would be all over the story, holding the offending institution up to a probing light, ," Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Sydney H. Schanberg wrote in a Washington Post editorial. "When law firms breach ethical canons, Wall Street brokerages cheat clients, or managed-care companies deny crucial care to patients, we journalists consider it news and frequently put it on the front page. But when our own profession is the offender, we go soft. "No newspaper is eager to acknowledge its own deficiencies -- or expose those of its peers (who might return the favor). Everyone has dirty linen," Schanberg added.

Some believe that that the watchdog role is best performed by outside groups, even if those groups have their own agendas. Others believe that those inside the media industry are best equipped to levy criticism, particularly because they are the most likely to be respected by journalists. In one way or another, however, all these watchdogs contribute to the ongoing conversation of what it means to have a free press in a free society.

The Role of Media Watchdogs


We all know that the media is assigned a special watchdog role in a democracy. This means that the independence of the mediafreedom of speech and freedom of information is sacrosanct. Media watchdogs played very vital rule in a lot of fields like economical, political, social and relational parts of a nation. I will discuss step by step that what role media watchdog plays in certain fields.

THE ROLE OF MEDIA IN DEMOCRACY


Access to information is essential to the health of democracy for at least two reasons. First, it ensures that citizens make responsible, informed choices rather than acting out of ignorance or misinformation. Second, information serves a checking function by ensuring that elected representatives uphold their oaths of office and carry out the wishes of those who elected them. In some societies, an antagonistic relationship between media and government represents a vital and healthy element of fully functioning democracies. In post-conflict or ethnically homogenous societies such a confliction, tension ridden relationship may not be appropriate, but the role of the press to disseminate information as a way of mediating between the state and all facets of civil society remains critical. Within the context of supporting democratic transitions, the goal of media development generally should be to move the media from one that is directed or even overtly controlled by government or private interests to one that is more open and has a degree of editorial independence that serves the public interest. If the media is to have any meaningful role in democracy, then the ultimate goal of media assistance should be to develop a range of diverse mediums and voices that are credible, and to create and strengthen a sector that promotes such outlets. Credible outlets enable citizens to have access to information that they need to make informed decisions and to participate in society. A media sector supportive of democracy would be one that has a degree of editorial independence, is financially viable, has diverse and plural voices, and serves the public interest. The public interest is defined as representing a plurality of voices both through a greater number of outlets and through the diversity of views and voices reflected within one outlet.

Environmental Issues and the Watchdog Role:


Citizens of Western democracies have long believed that the media should serve as watchdogs. Many feel one of the media's most important watchdog duties is environmental reporting. As human progress has undoubtedly caused significant changes in the ecosystem, citizens have increasingly depended on the media to inform us about possible ill effects thereof. Though critics from both right and left have reservations about the actual fulfillment of this role by the press, most uphold environmental reporting in principle. Hence, environmental 6

journalism is growing in stature and respect. Even so, the work of Jacques Ellul puts forth an analysis of the watchdog function of the press that challenges key tenets of the liberal democratic presuppositions of our technological society. His analysis, which is of neither the right nor the left, raises questions that anyone who thinks seriously about the media and the environment should ponder, even those who ultimately disagree with Ellul's position.

Watchdog Role for betterment of society:


And the issue before us here today is not the argument of whether or not freedom of information can empower society. Just to illustrate my point, all of you remember when Prince Diana died. One of our partners was in a remote village in Malawi the day she was being buried. The entire village had turned out to watch this event on CNN at the local hotel. In Africa, of course we have a way of grieving for our loved ones like nowhere else. Yes against this background, the content to which this event so far from the reality of those gathered has come so close to their hearts reflected the immense power of the electronic media. Power can be used constructively or destructively. Ye the media could be amazing tool for the public and for years the government has made sure that the ordinary person cannot access information.

Watchdog Role for corporate sector:


Media watch dogs also played a very vital role in corporate sectors. The watchdog groups focus criticism on the expanding wealth and influence of corporate conglomerates. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) seeks out evidence of censorship by corporate owners, overall corporate bias, and a lack of diversity in news coverage. A March 8, 2001, FAIR article argued that ABC's "World News Tonight" only provided the perspectives and interpretations of the pharmaceutical companies and their supporters in a story on patents for AIDS drugs in Africa.

What we can Do?


Yet the medias role as the watchdog cannot be fully achieved without proper environment. Powered by awesome and fast changing technology with its vast reach; the media is, quite simply, one of the most powerful forces on earth today for shaping the way people think. As we foster freedom information a number of fundamental things need to be taken into consideration.

A clear conceptual framework: In order to be effective, we need to


understand clearly who our targets are. Clearly the producers of news are at the heart of the matter. But they work within legal and policy frameworks that create or negate an enabling environment for transformation. Media ownership- state, private, community- has a bearing on responsiveness to change, as well as strategies for advocating change. Change is not just about the media; but those who are well placed to shape the news (eg women decision-makers and activists) as well as citizens and news consumers who should aspire to be shapers of news!

Broadening the approach: While it is understandable that advocacy efforts


to date have focused specifically on the gender deficiencies in the media, as we move forward there is need to situate these within broader debates on human rights, media diversity, ethics and professionalism in the media, growing markets and media sustainability. This approach will not only help to overcome some of the resistance that is apparent in some quarters, but also foster the notion that gender awareness is not just a matter of being politically correct: it is also enlightened self interest

Engaging with media regulatory authorities: Until recently media


regulatory authorities have largely been excluded from gender and media debates. This is an unfortunate omission, as they have a key role to play in setting out the macro policy framework in which the media operates and freedom of expression is interpreted. AWC has been in the fore-front in breaking new ground with research by country chapters into existing laws and policies, the implementing agencies, and international best practice on gender and media regulation.

Deepening the engagement with media decision-makers: Many of


the policy changes that need to take place will continue to be at newsroom level. After an initial set of pilot projects to develop communication policies in newsrooms, the partnership with various stakeholders opens the possibility for a much broader and more sustained engagement with media decision makers for example our work with the East Africa editors forum and the Africa Editors Forum (TAEF).

Setting specific targets: As part of developing newsroom policies there is


need to set specific targets, such as women sources reaching 30% of the total by 2010, and 50% by 2020 (in line with AU targets for womens representation in decision-making). Although targets like this alone are not enough, they help to focus the mind, to mobilize and to conduct more effective monitoring and evaluation.

Taking a fresh look at training: There have now been several different
approaches to various trainings with an aim to encourage public journalism in the region. Newsroom training in the run up to elections proved a useful strategy for reaching working journalists.

Foregrounding citizens and consumers: The Gender and Media


Audience Research (GMAS) places a new and important focus on media consumers that has generally been lacking in the way the media in the region goes about doing its business and the door to engagement with media marketing departments as well as give a shot in the arm to the gender and media literacy work soon to be started by AWC.

Media activism: Among the most valuable contribution of gender and media
networks has been in organizing campaigns like the Sixteen Days of Activism on Gender Violence in which activists help the media to create gender aware content, International Womens day to create awareness around gender policies, International day on HIV/AIDS among other important calendar events

Coordination and reflection: While partnerships, networks, and networks


of networks have been a the core of the progress made so far in the region, these are also demanding and at times lead to confusion about roles, responsibilities and ownership of specific programs and projects. There is need to set aside time and resources for coordination, governance, effective institution building and reflection. In particular, establishment of a Media Diversity Centre that would provide an institutional home for the many activities, writing, research, debates and seminars that will continue to be generated in the long road ahead to achieving a society in which -

What governments can do


Pledging to mainstream gender in all information, communication and media laws.

Pledging statutory regulatory authorities, and encouraging self-regulatory authorities, to use whatever leverage they have at their disposal, especially in relation to publicly funded media, to ensure, diversity and accountability. This could include requiring gender balance and sensitivity in institutional structures as well as editorial content part of licensing agreements, as well as annual reports stating progress in this regard.

Pledging to ensure that gender will be mainstreamed in all publicly funded media training institutions, and encouraging privately funded media training institutions to follow suit.

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Conclusion:
Media Watchdogs plays very vital rule because it is their duty to watch the government. But it is central to, completely implicated within, the political and social life of contemporary societies. I would suggest that the structures and systems which generate accountability for powerful institutions in society have not, however, developed around the media. The media, for example, plays or at least attempts to play some kind of a role as a watchdog over the government: but is the watchdog watched? I think the media have not, collectively, understood how to manage effectively the extraordinary power they have accrued. If media is able to understand and at least start trying to play its role as watchdog then the conditions of Pakistan can change a lot. Geo is very big example of media watchdog group.

Reference:
http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_1861710761/watchdog.html http://usinfo.state.gov/journals/itgic/0401/ijge/gj05.htm Understanding Media Watchdogs By Virginia Whitehouse, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Communication Studies Whitworth College, Spokane, Washington http://www.usaid.gov/our_work/democracy_and_governance/publications/pdfs/pnace630.p df
The Role of Media in Promoting Access to Information and Serving as a Public Watchdog By Rosemary Okello-Orlale Executive Director African Woman and Child Feature Service (AWC).

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