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The Accountability and Transparency of Whistleblowing Platforms Issues of Networked Journalism and Contested Boundaries

Porlezza, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-1400-5879 & Di Salvo, P. (2020). The Accountability and Transparency of Whistleblowing Platforms Issues of Networked Journalism and Contested Boundaries. Journalism Studies, 21(16), pp. 2285-2304. doi: 10.1080/1461670x.2020.1842233


WikiLeaks has often been criticized for being an organization seeking transparency without being transparent and accountable itself. The paper aims to shed light on how whistleblowing platforms understand transparency and accountability with regard to their own activities and how and whether they implement online-based practices of accountability and transparency. Drawing on the conceptual model of online media accountability developed by Domingo and Heikkilä, the paper analyzes four whistleblowing platforms: the Hungarian MagyarLeaks, the Dutch PubLeaks, the Italian IrpiLeaks and the German Briefkasten of the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. This study is based on a two-step methodological approach, applying first a document analysis of publicly accessible information on online practices of accountability and transparency; second, we present findings from in-depth interviews with selected editors from each whistleblowing platform. The study critically discusses the evidence of specific challenges with regard to actor and process transparency relating to the platform’s rationale. In addition, responsiveness does not appear to be a core practice, given that interaction with the audience is generally left to the news media partners, where the leaked material is published. The findings show that whistleblowing platforms have developed unevenly in terms of accountability and transparency.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journalism Studies on 16 Nov 2020, available at
Publisher Keywords: Whistleblowing, hacking, journalism, accountability, transparency, boundaries
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Q Science > QA Mathematics > QA75 Electronic computers. Computer science
Departments: School of Communication & Creativity > Journalism
SWORD Depositor:
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