Rethinking accountability in contemporary media organizations

Ghislain Deslandes, Mollie Painter-Morland


The recent past has shown that media organizations were not only unable to anticipate the international crisis, but also ill-equipped to help its audiences reflect on its implications. In this study, we analyze how the identity crisis that increasingly characterizes contemporary media industries impacts the traditional way news professionals deal with the questions of accountability. We set up three focus groups in South-Africa, France and USA involving newsroom managers to discuss their post-crisis perceptions of the changes in their professional conception of accountability. In this paper, we first explain and justify the use of this specific research method. Then we sketch the two main results emerging from the focus groups. Finally we embark on a philosophical analysis of the changes in the media industry by drawing on the work of Paul Virilio, in order to explore the acceleration in the media industry as a threat to accountability. In conclusion, we present the concept of relational credibility as a new form of professional accountability that makes journalists, publishers and readers co-responsible for the editorial content.


Acceleration; Media organizations; Paul Virilio; Relational credibility; Relational accountability


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Copyright (c) 2012 Swiss Association of Communication and Media Research and Università della Svizzera italiana. Published by Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

Studies in Communication Sciences | ISSN: 1424-4896