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Watchdog journalism is a form of investigative journalism where journalists, authors or publishers of a news publication fact-check and interview political and public figures to increase accountability. Watchdog journalism usually takes on a form of beat reporting about specific aspects and issues[vague]
In the course of their work, watchdog journalists gather information about wrongdoings of people in power and deliver it to the public so the public can understand what happens in society and stop wrongdoings. To do their job, maintaining a certain distance from people in power is necessary to challenge the actions of people in power. Watchdog journalism is different from propagandist journalists, who often report articles from a government's perspective. Due to watchdog journalism's unique features, it also often works as the fourth estate. The general issues, topics, or scandals that watchdog journalists cover are political corruption and any wrongdoings of people in power such as government officials or corporation executives. One of the important things that watchdog journalists have to do is uncover hidden evidence about wrongdoings.
The role of the press to be a "watchdog" and monitor a government's actions has been one of the fundamental components of a democratic society. Ettema and Glasser (1998) argue that watchdog journalism's most important role is that their "stories implicitly demand the response of public officials." Playing a role as a Fourth Estate, watchdog journalism is able to force governments to meet their obligations to the public by publicizing several issues such as scandals, corruption, and failure to address needs of the public. Mellado (2015) identified and developed three dimensions of operationalization of the watchdog role: the intensity of scrutiny, journalistic voice, and the source of news event.
Depending on the differences in a social and organizational level, a performance of the journalistic role also changes. In turn, there are a few factors that are likely to have an influence over the type of watchdog performance in the journalism.
Detached watchdog journalism, one of the four identified journalism cultures, puts emphasis on neutrality, fairness, objectivity, and impartiality. This is the most familiar and pervasive type of a few forms of watchdog journalism. Detached watchdog refers to observing issues in a detached manner. So it pursues a different approach in scrutinizing wrongdoings and publicizing them to the public from what interventionist approach does. In addition this is the reason why characteristics including neutrality, fairness, objectivity, and impartiality are important. But it does not mean that watchdog journalists do not take a skeptical and critical action. The detached watchdog journalism is predominant especially in the western countries such as Germany, the United States, Austria, and Switzerland.
In the detached approach, the most predominant form of watchdog journalism, criticism and question which are done by sources are the least intense levels of scrutiny. Since the detached watchdog journalism generally consists of third parties (or sources) that question, criticize, and denounce wrongdoings, it tends to play a passive role in terms of investigating people in power. In this regard, one of the characteristics that distinguishes between detached and the other type of approaches named interventionist watchdog journalism is the type of event that journalists handle. The type of event that prompts the journalists to act as a watchdog to scrutinizing people in power by questioning and criticizing is different based on the approaches. Within liberal media systems, the phenomenon that journalists are highly likely to take the detached approach of the watchdog journalism can be often seen because of liberal media systems' a few unique features such as the factuality and objectivity.
Historically, a lot of examples have proven that watchdog journalism has the power to dislodge corrupt people in power from their positions. One of the most famous examples is how coverage of the Watergate scandal, done by watchdog journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, led to resignation of the U.S President Richard Nixon on August 9, 1974.
The Watergate scandal was one of the biggest political scandals in the United States. It involved Richard Nixon, the 37th president of the United States and led him to resignation. This scandal stemmed from the attempts of 5 former FBI and CIA agents broke in the Democratic National Committee headquarters which is located at the Watergate Office Building, Washington D.C. What they were trying to do was to plant a bug for Richard Nixon's winning the re-election in exchange for receiving the cash. After 5 perpetrators were arrested, several revelation and investigation were progressed until 1973 and it made the House decide to commence an impeachment process against Nixon. The Oval Office tapes, the significant evidence of the Watergate scandal, revealed that Nixon tried to cover up what he did to win the re-election such as breaking-in and using federal officials. As a result, the impeachment against Richard Nixon was approved by the House judiciary committee. He resigned from all of offices on August 9, 1974.
The case of Watergate scandal is the most famous example showing the role of watchdog journalism, how it works and even further, its impact. The media, especially, The Washington Post, significantly contributed to highlight the fact that there's the rotten connection between the breaking in the Watergate Office and Richard Nixon's re-election committee. In addition, its coverage led to an explosion of publicity and public attention. To cover the scandal, anonymous sources became the main material that The Washington Post heavily relied on. Specifically, the Washington Post's investigative journalists named Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein played a really important role.  They uncovered information and evidence that proved the agents' break-in to plant a bug and attempts to conceal it which result in the intervention of the Justice Department, FBI, CIA, and the White House. In addition, they conducted interviews with a witness named Judy Hoback Miller. He was the book keep who worked at the Richard Nixon's re-election committee and had an evidence showing how Richard Nixon and his committee mishandled the funds and destroyed the records, the evidence of conspiracy. The most valuable and reliable anonymous sources came from person who didn't reveal his identity at the time. He was called Deep Throat by Woodward and Bernstein. Every meeting between investigative journalists of The Washington Post and Deep Throat was held secretly. And through these meetings, involvement of the Richard Nixon, his committee and the White House was revealed. Later, it was also revealed that Deep Throat, the anonymous informant, is the deputy director of the FBI during 1970s named William Mark Felt, Sr.
Journalism's role as a watchdog is in danger of disappearing in a lot of societies and countries across the world. Basically, watchdog journalism has to force people in power, for instance government officials, to take a responsibility of their actions that affect public's way of living. However, since local news media and newspaper have faced closing or consolidation, it is hard to see journalism that watches those in power. To be specific, in the case of the United States, the phenomenon of disappearing a local newspaper has happened in more than 1,400 cities since 15 years ago according to an Associated Press's research which was conducted through data gathered by the University of North Carolina. And those cities are where watchdog journalism that reports issues and problems caused by actions of a corrupt people in power is necessarily needed. As a result, several negative outcomes for the community has been brought. Foremost, rotten actions of people in power such as politicians are unable to be criticized and watched. This is because there is no transparency that can solve problems and achieve a healthy democracy. 
In addition, disappearing of a local newspaper that plays a role as a watchdog journalism is related to putting a financial problem directly on members in a community. Based on the research conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago and the University of Notre Dame, it is found that increasing in borrowing costs after a local newspaper is closed has a close connection with municipal government.  It indicates that the absence of a watchdog journalism leaves public out of a discussion and helps people in power such as government officials to refuse to increase working people's wages and in payrolls. People in power is highly likely to engage in wasteful spending because there is no journalism that watches and criticizes their actions, decisions, and policies. To simply put, if there is no investigative journalism, important issues that public must know are not covered. So instead of reporting on fraud, abuse, and waste, useless and meaningless topics will be handled as if they are the only a problem that a community faces. For instance, a corruption which is related to various public infrastructures such as hospital that require more resource with a high quality to provide better service to public will be less likely to be told.
An extreme example is provided by the City of Bell scandal: Bell, California is a modest income community of roughly 37,000 in Los Angeles County. In 1999 or shortly thereafter the local newspaper died. In 2010 the Los Angeles Times found that the city was near bankruptcy in spite of having atypically high property tax rates. Part-time city council members collected almost $100,000 a year. The Chief of Police's salary was over $450,000, roughly double that of the Los Angeles Chief of Police, whose department included almost 10,000 officers vs. 48 for Bell. The city manager made almost $800,000, almost double that of the President of the United States.