Do you or your neighbours have a dog which keeps guard over the house, barking to alert you when something is wrong? It's a guard dog, or a watch dog, watching for signs that things are not what they should be.
So too in the media we talk about watchdogs. We're referring to organisations which keep watch over a particular industry or sector. For example: a financial services authority would watch for wrongdoing in the finance business; the police complaints body would handle complaints against police.Here's an example from BBC news:
"Britain's electoral watchdog, the Electoral Commission, has proposed a wide range of reforms aimed at eradicating postal voting fraud in elections."
A nuclear watchdog is on duty, just like that guard dog, for any sign that countries with a nuclear industry are breaching international treaties on nuclear weapons. Here's an example:
"The head of the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, Mohamed El Baradei, has warned of disastrous consequences if North Korea should test a nuclear weapon."Watchdogs not only monitor or watch, some also campaign or lobby. For example, there arewatchdogs who campaign for the protection of the environment, such as WWF, and for human rights, such as the groups Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.
Listen to this story about the journalism lobby group or media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders: "The organisation, Reporters Without Borders, said her action in confiscating journalists'notebooks, pens and mobile phones, was an abuse of authority. The media watchdog also criticised the wife of the Nigerian president, who allegedly ordered the arrest of a Nigerian newspaper editor for publishing an unflattering article about her."Let's hear some of the different breeds of watchdog: independent, electoral, constitutional,financial, human rights, government, media and nuclear.