The Role of News Media in Intelligence Oversight

Claudia Hillebrand

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial Issuepeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


This article explores the role of the news media in overseeing intelligence
services and their work. As an informal mechanism, how do they fit into the wider
landscape of intelligence oversight? By drawing on examples of US counter-terrorism
efforts in the post-9/11 era, the article identifies three roles for the news media in
intelligence oversight: as an information transmitter and stimulator for formal
scrutinizers, as a substitute watchdog and as a legitimizing institution. Yet there is a
danger of the news media acting merely as a lapdog. Other limitations include the
impact of regulatory frameworks, government secrecy and the media strategies of
intelligence services. The article concludes that the news media play an important role in the wider intelligence oversight landscape, but that their ability to scrutinize is
uneven and ad hoc and as a result the picture they produce is blurred.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-706
Number of pages18
JournalIntelligence and National Security
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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