Media self-regulaton

Media self-regulation is a component of social responsibility model whereby, on the one hand, media outlets must be free from both state ownership and control and on the other hand, media must not be a profit-oriented institution alone but must feel responsibility to all groups of society and consider their needs and requirements.

Social responsibility model implies that media is responsible to society and responds to complaints of consumers concerning media content. Cooperation between society and media is based on principles of Thomas Hobbes’ “social contract.” Bearing in mind that interests of an individual are affected not only by his/her action but also actions of others, it is important for people to agree on rules and observe those rules. An individual who is responsible for a particular action is also accountable for the consequences of that action. A responsible individual is relatively autonomous or free to take decisions concerning his/her work without external pressure and influence. Autonomy is, however, central to the definition of professionalism.  

Journalists are responsible for reporting events that are important for society, which includes a fair and balanced representation of objective opinions. Accountability involves condemnation or encouragement of such actions that, as a rule, relate to acknowledged responsibilities. Ethical action of media representatives is linked to their moral obligations:

  • To themselves – in order to protect their own reputation;

  • To clients - to observe contract and act professionally in behalf of their clients;

  • To organization and employer – to act in accordance with the aims and policy of organization;

  • To profession and colleagues - to observe professional standards and protect reputation of profession;

  • To society - to take into consideration needs and requirements of society.

Ethical decisions made by media affect a large number of people while an important component of professionalism is the orientation on social service. Existence of journalistic self-regulation mechanism is one of important manifestations of ethical development of social service.

Journalistic self-regulation is important because it:

  • Protects editorial independence,

  • Reduces state intervention,

  • Contributes to the improvement of media quality and trust towards the profession,

  • Is a demonstration of media accountability,

  • Enables society to know what to expect from objective and conscientious media,

  • Enables society to access media.

There are three types of self-regulation:

  1. Institutionalized – press councils;

  2. Non-institutionalized – in-house regulations of media outlets, individual ombudsmen;

  3. Mixed regulation – complaints commission set up at a regulatory authority or a broadcaster on the basis of the law.

Institutionalized regulation – press councils


Non-institutionalized regulation


Mixed regulation