In the United States, the press is often referred to as the fourth estate because, in theory, it acts as a watchdog of government. Yet the press itself needs a watchdog. Scholars have argued that journalism in a democracy remains answerable to media accountability systems. Due to its role in a democracy, the government cannot have the power to hold journalism accountable, so the press must do it for themselves; the media must have a strong sense of self-regulation.

There are numerous protocols and manners through which journalism holds itself accountable: codes of ethics, press councils, trade journals, social media posts, and, most saliently for this entry, ombudsmen. All together, these form media accountability systems, which have the goal of improving the services of media, restoring ...

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