Theoretically, the public is engaged in the accountability process, mainly in two ways: it conceives an image of professional quality and it may call journalism to account. Therefore, this study explores the meaning and functionality of media accountability from a users’ perspective: How do news media users perceive media accountability in relation to journalistic quality? Focus group analysis highlights how the mechanism of quality deduction strengthens the link between perceived media accountability and journalistic quality. Supporting the normative-economic rationale, this study identifies media accountability as a quality assessment tool, a quality trade mark and as journalistic value on its own. However, threshold perception clearly discourages news users to engage in accountability processes. It is suggested that news media may benefit from an accessible but proportional media accountability infrastructure.