Letters from the editor-in-chief have both been celebrated and criticized as a potential media accountability instrument. In the light of these divergent qualifications we analyzed corporate accounts in letters from the editor-in-chief in four selected Dutch media, applying Coombs’ defensive-accommodative continuum (2007; 1998) for crisis communication to the news media sector. Content analysis shows that journalistic organizations facing criticism use seven different response strategies, ranging from defensive to accommodative: rejection, refutation, evasion, justification, mitigation, confession and alteration. Although occasionally editors-in-chief admit mistakes, practices and implementation of professional standards remain undisputed. This confirms the ambiguous role of letters from editors-in-chief as a platform for both self criticism and image management.