The role of the media is critical in raising public awareness, promoting integrity and detecting and reporting on corruption. Successful action against corruption is dependent on knowledge and information which can be delivered by media. First, media raise public awareness about corruption, its causes, consequences and possible remedies and thus can foster a culture of integrity. Second, media can investigate, detect and report incidences of corruption, bringing corruption cases in to the public and provoking judicial judgment on them.
The effectiveness of the media, in turn, depends on access to information and freedom of expression, as well as a professional and ethical cadre of investigative journalists. Governments, media owner and journalists have a shared responsibility to ensure that media can and does effectively contribute to strengthen accountability and curb corruption.
These questions address what governments can do to provide an adequate legal framework. They are largely inspired form the work done by Transparency International (TI Source Book 2000 Confronting Corruption: The Elements of a National Integrity System).
1. Are freedom of information laws and procedures in place to ensure that members of the public can obtain information from public authorities?
2. If an “Official Secrets Act” or something similar is in place, is it only used in exceptional situations menacing national security and not as a means to secure censorship of the media by government?
3. Are libel laws only used in adequate cases and not to censor media and curb the dissemination on corruption cases?
4. If journalists or media entities have to obtain special licenses, does licensing follow only professional criteria and is not used to censor the media?
5. Is the publicly-owned media independent from government control as to editorial control?
6. Is there competition within print media, television, radio and on the web? Do antimonopoly laws exist to secure competition and, if so, are they enforced?
7. Do the foreign media have the same rights as the domestic media to cover and report stories?
8. Do laws or procedures exist that oblige media owners to reveal their non-media business interests (and business that such owners may have with government) to the public?
9. Do laws protect individual journalists who expose corruption or investigate the interests of powerful private and public sector leaders?