Document Type




Format of Original

14 p.

Publication Date



SAGE Publications

Source Publication

Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism

Source ISSN


Original Item ID

doi: 10.1177/1464884907089009


As an institution designed to resolve disputes between the public and the American news media and to assess the ethical standards of the mainstream media, the National News Council (1973-84) was, at least in the USA, a ground-breaking institution. This study suggests, however, that the Council's work was anything but revolutionary, and that it probably did more to entrench the received tenets of American journalism than to either validate or refashion them. By applying a conventional set of ethical standards in its resolution of disputes, by repeatedly emphasizing the First Amendment rights of the media respondents, by violating its by-laws and allowing the media members of the Council to dominate its membership, and by ruling in the vast majority of cases against the public complainants, the Council's work provides grist for those who might question its legitimacy and its value as a model of authentic press-public collaboration.


Accepted version. Journalism: Theory, Practice & Criticism, Vol. 9, No. 3 (June 2008): 285-308. DOI. © SAGE Publications 2008. Used with permission.

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