Exposing corruption acts is one of the most important duties of watchdog journalism. Nonetheless, approaches to their coverage vary depending on the media and political systems. This study aims to put forth the systemic dimensions of these approaches by comparing how Chile and Mexico’s most influential newspapers respectively covered corruption-related scandals during the 2017 and 2018 presidential elections. In doing so, this article draws on quantitative and qualitative content analysis of news stories. The results suggest that, despite the similarities between the countries’ media systems, there are significant differences in the visibility and depth of corruption coverage, and that media systems matter in this topic. The fact that Chile is ranked as one of the least corrupt nations in Latin America, whereas Mexico is not, and that the Chilean media system is more independent, concentrated and commercialised, means that there is less reporting on this issue, but the stories are more heavily highlighted though somewhat depoliticised. On the other hand, Mexican newspapers continuously publish this type of news, but rather than being the product of journalistic investigations, they reflect the routine political coverage and the instrumentalization of the press by the political elites.