Conceptualizing and Measuring Characteristics of Media Systems


Lee B. Becker and Tudor Vlad


Press freedom has been viewed as a characteristic of the nation state, linked in much of the western literature to other state characteristics such as level of democratization, extent of civil liberties, government transparency and even economic liberalization. Researchers and governmental and nongovernmental organizations rely heavily on the ratings of press freedom compiled by Freedom House, Reporters without Borders and the International Research and Exchange Board (IREX). This paper extends earlier work looking at the reliability and validity of these measures. For the first time, public opinion data are used in that analysis. The paper presents evidence of the reliability and validity of the measures, including evidence that those countries rated by expert panels as having press freedom also are considered by their citizens to have media freedom.

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