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Watchdog journalism is a type of investigative journalism. It refers to forms of activist journalism aimed at holding accountable public personalities and institutions whose functions impact social and political life. The term lapdog journalism is sometimes used as a conceptual opposite to watchdog journalism.
Watchdog journalism is most commonly found in think tanks, alternative media, and citizen journalism such as blogs. It is occasionally found in mainstream media as well. Since independent media and think tanks are not profit-oriented, they have more latitude in which to adopt strong positions and cover a wide range of topics. However, it is also more difficult to determine the backing of non-mainstream outlets so those are sometime subject to covert exploitation by well-funded interests.
In recent history, a notable example of watchdog journalism was the exposure of Dan Rather's investigative segment which cast George W. Bush's military record in an unfavorable light. The segment was based on the Killian documents, which blogger journalists exposed as being insufficiently verifiable as authentic.
Some watchdog journalism focuses on bias in the media. For examples from the United States, see list in Media bias in the United States. In the UK where there is greater national coverage, watchdog journalism is very effective and consumers' rights are upheld both by radio, television and most national newspapers.
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