Linking Elite Measures of Media Freedom and Public Opinion Data: A Validation Exercise


Lee B. Becker and Tudor Vlad


Governments, nongovernmental organizations, and increasingly, scholars, rely heavily on the ratings of a small number of organizations to gauge media freedom and independence. Earlier work has shown that these established systemic measures of media charateristics are internally consistent, highly intercorrelated, and reflect known changes in media systems across time. Preliminary research also now shows that these measures of media freedom, based on the assessments of elites within the societies and external experts, also are correlated with measures of public opinion. This has been the first test of the expectation that the citizenry views media freedom in a similar way to how elite organizations do. This paper provides further evidence that public opinion and elite evaluations are correlated. It also shows considerable consistency in evaluation of media systems regardless of the geographic origins of the evaluators.

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