Media Accountability and Transparency

The Erich Brost Institute (EBI) is one of the world's leading research institutions in the field of media accountability. The EBI thus deals with how media institutions and companies, newsrooms and journalists react to criticism and complaints from outside and make themselves and their work transparent, or which external actors can provide such media monitoring without state interference. In various research and practice projects since 2009, the EBI has scrutinized newsrooms, press and media councils, media ombudsmen, media criticism and digital forms of media accountability for this purpose and thus researched instruments and practices of media (self-)regulation in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

During the MediaAcT project, a network of researchers from twelve Eastern and Western European countries examined media self-regulation and media transparency in Europe, with the addition of Jordan and Tunisia. The project, led by the EBI and funded by the EU, resulted in several publications, including the book "Journalists and Media Accountability. An International Study of News People in the Digital Age", published by Peter Lang in 2014.

In the Middle East and North Africa, the EBI has continued its activities in the area of media self-regulation with, among others, the media development project Ombudsmen in Tunisian Newsrooms and the currently ongoing project Media Accountability in the MENA Region.

For the book project "The European Handbook of Media Accountability" (Routledge, 2018), a network of scholars set out to describe the status quo of media self-regulation and media transparency in over 30 countries, including all member states of the European Union. The handbook was edited by EBI Director Prof. Dr. Susanne Fengler together with Prof. Dr. Matthias Karmasin and Dr. Tobias Eberwein (Austrian Academy of Sciences).

The 2018 conference "Media and Transparency - a Global Perspective" in Berlin marked the starting point for "The Global Handbook of Media Accountability", which has been published by Routledge in 2022 and co-edited by Prof. Dr. Susanne Fengler, Dr. Tobias Eberwein and Prof. Dr. Matthias Karmasin. The book presents a joint attempt by leading international scholars to “de-Westernize” the academic debate on media accountability and discuss different models of media self-regulation and newsroom transparency around the globe. Drawing on the expertise of more than 90 international authors, it unites reports on the status quo of media accountability in 44 countries worldwide. As such, it constitutes the first interdisciplinary academic framework comparing structures of media accountability across all continents.

The comparative analysis presented in the Global Handbook of Media Accountability not only explores context factors of media accountability instruments and practices which have developed in different (journalism) cultures. It also suggests eight models of media accountability suitable to describe non-Western contexts as well: the professional model, the company model, the public model, the dysfunctional professional model, the foreign donor model, the statutory model, the mimicry model, and the regulation model. With these and other findings, the book provides an invaluable basis for further research and policymaking. It will appeal to students and scholars of media studies and journalism, mass communication, sociology, and political science, as well as policymakers and practitioners. A summary of the results is available here.

The 2018 conference "Media and Transparency - a Global Perspective" in Berlin marked the starting point for "The Global Handbook of Media Accountability", which is to be published by Routledge in 2022. Scholars from around the world will present more than 40 qualitative country reports on how media (self-)regulation and media transparency function in their respective countries and what difficulties and challenges arise. The anthology, again co-edited with Prof. Dr. Matthias Karmasin and Dr. Tobias Eberwein, is the first global academic framework to cover media accountability across political systems and world regions. The editorial team has brought together experts from all continents. In addition, the volume further develops the theoretical foundations of media accountability based on the global comparison.

The portfolio also includes two other international anthologies in which the EBI has been involved: In "Media Accountability in the Era of Post-Truth Politics" (Routledge, 2019, edited by Prof. Dr. Susanne Fengler, Prof. Dr. Matthias Karmasin and Dr. Tobias Eberwein), more than 30 authors took a look at various challenges for media accountability. The book was developed following a conference organized by the editors in Prague in 2016 and was selected for the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) book series. In "Cultures of Transparency: Between Promise and Peril" (Routledge, 2021), scholars from a wide range of disciplines explore the phenomenon of transparency, including historians, economists, and literary scholars. The anthology was edited by Prof. Dr. Susanne Fengler together with Prof. Dr. Stefan Berger, Dr. Dimitrij Owetschkin, and Julia Sittmann from the Institute for Social Movements at Ruhr University Bochum, and emerged from a conference jointly organized with the VW Foundation in Berlin in 2018.

Publications covering Media Accountability & Transparency


Fengler, S., Eberwein, T., & Karmasin, M. (Eds.) (2022): The Global Handbook of Media Accountability. London/New York: Routledge.

Berger, S., Fengler, S., Owetschkin, D., & Sittmann, J. (Eds.) (2021): Cultures of Transparency. Between Promise and Peril. London, New York: Routledge.

Eberwein, T., Fengler, S., & Karmasin, M. (Eds.) (2019): Media accountability in the era of post-truth politics: European challenges and perspectives. ECREA Series. London: Routledge.

Fengler, S., Eberwein, T., & Karmasin M. (Eds.) (2018): The European Handbook of Media Accountability. London/New York: Routledge

Fengler, S., Eberwein, T., Mazzoleni, G., Porlezza, C., & Russ-Mohl, S. (Eds.) (2014): Journalists and media accountability. An international study of news people in the digital age. New York et al.: Peter Lang.

Eberwein, T., Fengler, S., Lauk, E., & Leppik-Bork, T. (Eds.) (2011): Mapping media accountability – in Europe and beyond. Cologne: Herbert von Halem.

Other publications (selection):

Fengler, S. (2019): Accountability in Journalism. Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication.

Fengler, S. (2019): Media Accountability. In Hanusch, F., & Vos, T.P. (Eds.): International Communication Association's International Encyclopedia of Journalism Studies

Fengler, S. & Speck, D. (2019): Journalism and Transparency: A Mass Communications Perspective. In: Berger, S. & Owetschkin, D. (Eds): Contested Transparencies, Social Movements and the Public Sphere. Palgrave Studies in the History of Social Movements, 119-149. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Fengler, S., et al. (2015): How effective is media self-regulation? Results from a comparative survey of European journalists. In: European Journal of Communication, Vol. 30 (3), 249-266.

Fengler, S. (2012): From Media Self-Regulation to “Crowd-Criticism”: Media Accountability in the Digital Age. In: Central European Journal of Communication, Vol. 5 Nr. 2, 175-189.