Lack of systematic evidence
Although there is a substantial amount of research on the role of the media in domestic accountability, it is scattered and inconsistent. Studies use vastly different definitions and measurements of accountability and interpret results inconsistently. Anecdotes of successful media interventions outnumber rigorous studies with strong empirical measures.
The research also lacks an overarching theoretical framework to enhance our systematic understanding of the role of the media in accountability. Donor organisations are increasingly seeing the need to construct such a framework. In its publication Public Sentinel: News Media and Governance Reform, the World Bank situates the interaction between the media and accountability within the framework of a democratic public sphere. DFID and AusAID are in the process of commissioning a systematic review of effective approaches by non-government organisations (including the media) for improving service delivery in developing countries. The aim is to strengthen the international community’s capacity for evidence-based policy making when enhancing accountability.5