Lead authors: Renzo Lavin & Carolina Cornejo (ACIJ)
Contributing authors: Sruti Bandyopadhyay (World Bank)
- Module 01
- Other Relevant Stakeholders
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.