The complex pattern of regulation in medical practice and health care is intended to secure decision making that is based on sound reasoning and evidence. To what extent can the media influence regulatory practice, and to what extent should any such influence be a cause for concern? This article considers different conceptions of regulation, the functions of the media, and the kinds of influence which they may bring to bear. It argues that, while some forms of media influence are inappropriate, others reflect legitimate public interest in regulatory process. Regulators should engage positively with media interest in their work and do not need to compromise their purposes to do so. © The Author(s) 2011.