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Media, Popular Culture, and Communication Rights Research Guide: Ethics & Watchdog Groups

Research strategies and resources on media, popular culture, journalism, copyright, digital society, and related topics.

Journalism and the Press: Ethics and Watchdog Groups

What's Here

This page will help you find scholarly resources on journalistic ethics and objectivity.

It also lists organizations dedicated to defining ethical standards for journalists, and investigating how well news organizations uphold those standards, questions of bias, etc. One of those standards is accuracy, so I have included fact-checking groups here as well -- including the accuracy of politicians' claims.

Selected Subject Headings and Keywords for Searching Orbis

Selected Reference Resources, Organizations and Watchdog Groups

Some of the organizations listed below have an explicit political orientation; others are more neutral. Most of the descriptions below are taken from the organizations' own websites, as shown by the quotation marks. (There may be changes on their websites from time to time.)

Be aware that charges of bias can themselves be biased, e.g., selective, distorted, etc. Sometimes charges of bias occur because a news organization reports true information that a "fact checking" group doesn't like ("Kill the messenger!"). But real bias does occur as well.

Accuracy In Media

"Accuracy In Media is a non-profit, grassroots citizens watchdog of the news media that critiques botched and bungled news stories and sets the record straight on important issues that have received slanted coverage." It has a strongly right-wing orientation.

The concise encyclopedia of ethics in politics and the media. Edited by Ruth Chadwick. San Diego: Academic Press, 2001.

Social Science (SSL) PN4756 C66X 2001



EthicNet is a collection of codes of journalism ethics from most of the European countries, translated into English.

Extra!: the newsletter of FAIR. [New York, NY]: FAIR, 1987-

Online coverage begins in 2007.

SML Stacks, PN4867 E89+ Oversize (occasional issues from 1987 to 2002.

FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting) "works to invigorate the First Amendment by advocating for greater diversity in the press and by scrutinizing media practices that marginalize public interest, minority and dissenting viewpoints." It has a strongly left-wing orientation.

Institute for Public Accuracy

The IPA "gains media access for those whose voices are commonly excluded or drowned out by government or corporate-backed institutions.", the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, is "dedicated to trying to understand the information revolution. [It] specializes in using empirical methods to evaluate and study the performance of the press, particularly content analysis. [It] intends to be non-partisan, non-ideological and non-political."

Media Alliance

Media Alliance "dedicates itself to fostering a genuine diversity of media voices and perspectives, holding the media accountable for their impact on society and protecting freedom of speech."

Media Education Foundation

"The Media Education Foundation produces and distributes documentary films and other educational resources to inspire critical thinking about the social, political, and cultural impact of American mass media."

Media Ethics Resources on the Web

A web portal to various sites on media ethics.

Media Watchers and Activists (University of Iowa, Dept. of Communications)

A web portal to various sites on media ethics.


MediaChannel is concerned with the political, cultural and social impacts of the media. Resources include thematic special reports, action toolkits, forums for discussion, an indexed directory of hundreds of affiliated groups and a search engine constituting the single largest online media-issues database.

Media Matters for America

"Media Matters for America is a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media."

Media Research Center. Alexandria, Va.: The Center.

SML, Stacks P92 U5 M46

Current issues in SML Periodical Room. (Section VF)

"The Media Research Center is proud to celebrate 25 years of holding the liberal media accountable for shamelessly advancing a left-wing agenda, distorting the truth, and vilifying the conservative movement."

Unlike most of the resources listed here, PolitiFact determines the validity of politicians' claims, not the media's. PolitiFact is a project of the Tampa Bay Times and its partners to help find "the truth in politics." Its "Truth-O-Meter" is based on the concept that -- especially in politics -- truth is not black and white. It rates politicians' claims as True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False, False, and "Pants on Fire" false.

Project Censored

"The mission of Project Censored is to teach students and the public about the role of a free press in a free society -- and to tell the News That Didn’t Make the News and Why." The organization also published a book on the top 25 censored stories of the previous year, in the series Censored (sometimes the title varies a little). Some of what goes un- or under-reported is pretty disturbing.

Reynolds Journalism Institute

"The Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute works with citizens, journalists and researchers to strengthen democracy through better journalism."



Librarian for Literature in English, Comparative Literature, and Linguistics

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