The Media

Interaction between SAIs and the media

SAIs and the media are mutually dependent. The media makes use of the information that SAIs possess to produce news of public interest. At the same time, SAIs need to convey their discoveries to the public, and the media often is the most powerful communication channel. Consequently, the interaction between SAIs and the media becomes essential for the adequate fulfillment of both their missions. That interaction can be the beginning of a solid tie that contributes to improving public accountability.

How can the interaction between SAIs and the media be improved to enhance public accountability?

On one hand, journalists can identify public interests that allow SAIs to build their oversight tasks in specific areas, or they can present information from SAIs in appealing ways to publicize across the media.

On the other hand, the media can also improve several possibilities for civic engagement that SAIs implement, either by broadcasting SAIs’ announcements or the results of announcements. Publicizing the work of SAIs contributes to heightening their importance, amplifying their voice, and increasing public interest and active participation in the audit process. Therefore, the media can be a partner that significantly strengthens and encompasses the public engagement and accountability measures implemented by SAIs.

For more information about SAIs and media, go to the section on communication strategies in Module 3.

The press and communication unit of Costa Rica’s Comptroller General is the formal liaison between the SAI and the media and develops an active communication policy. Audit reports and newsletters containing the CGR´s most relevant activities are delivered to journalists working in newspapers, radio, television, digital television, and weekly journals; media directors; press agencies; and regional media. Above all, the press office of the audited body is informed firsthand of what information has been given to the press to prevent any misunderstanding about the audit results. Press officials of state institutions and of Parliament also are informed before the media publishes the documents. Although the media can be a key ally to bolster the effectiveness of SAI reports, the CGR also disseminates its findings to directly reach other relevant stakeholders, such as civil society organizations, universities, survey firms, political consultants and experts, organizations related to the public administration, and professional associations, among others. The CGR uses different communication and information products beyond newsletters and reports. These include summaries of audit findings in everyday language, along with pictures, graphics, audio (summary recorded by a responsible party of the internal unit that prepared the report), and videos (public statement recorded by the unit that issued the information).

The Office of the Audit General of Norway develops an active media policy that goes beyond the dissemination of reports and consists of holding press conferences in connection with the publication of relevant documents and audit findings. This has bolstered the OAG communication strategy, as media coverage has been increasing over the past years. Similarly, opinion polls show that journalists are highly satisfied with this media policy, which positions the SAI much higher in comparison to most state institutions in aspects such as outreach, ability to communicate in plain language, and willingness to relate information about critical and problematic issues.

Any comments? Please notify us here.


TPA Initiative – ACIJ (2011): “Diagnostic Report on Transparency, Citizen Participation and Accountability in Supreme Audit Institutions of Latin America”

TPA Initiative – ACIJ (2013): “Audit Institutions in Latin America. Transparency, Citizen Participation and Accountability Indicators”.

Cornejo, C., Guillan, A. & Lavin, R. (2013): “When Supreme Audit Institutions engage with civil society: Exploring lessons from the Latin American Transparency Participation and Accountability Initiative”, U4 Practice Insight Nº5, Bergen, U4 Anti-Corruption Resource Centre - Chr. Michelsen Institute.

O´Donnell, Guillermo (2001): “Horizontal. Accountability: The legal institutionalization of mistrust”, Buenos Aires, PostdataN°6, pp. 11-34.

OECD (2013): “Citizen Engagement and Supreme Audit Institutions” (Stocktaking Report: DRAFT).

UN (2013): “Citizen Engagement Practicesby Supreme Audit Institutions”, Compendium of Innovative Practices of Citizen Engagementby Supreme Audit Institutions for Public Accountability.

INTOSAI (2013): “The Value and Benefits of Supreme Audit Institutions – making a difference to the lives of citizens”,ISSAI 12.

INTOSAI (2013): “Beijing Declaration”.

OLACEFS (2013): “The Santiago Declaration”.

INTOSAI (2010):“Principles of transparency and accountability”,ISSAI 20.

INTOSAI (2010):“Principles of Transparency and Accountability - Principles and Good Practices”, ISSAI 21.

INTOSAI (2007): “The Mexico Declaration on SAI Independence“, ISSAI 10.

OLACEFS (2009): “Asuncion Declaration”.

INTOSAI (1977): “Lima Declaration”.

UN (2011): Resolution A/66/209 “Promoting the efficiency, accountability, effectiveness and transparency of public administration bystrengthening supreme audit institutions”.

UN (2003): “United Nations Convention against Corruption”.