Understanding the Correlates of Public Perceptions of Press Freedom


Lee B. Becker, Cynthia English and Tudor Vlad


The analyses in this paper focus on correlates of public responses to a media freedom measure that would seem to be unrelated to the actual level of freedom itself. They examine structural predictors, such as educational level of the country and level of political freedom, to determine if they explain variation in the public opinion measures once variation attributable to the assessment of the elite evaluator is controlled. In this sense, the measures of the elite evaluators of Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders are treated as "reality", and the structural predictors are examined to identify those that explain additional variance in public perceptions of press freedom. The analysis confirms that most of the variance is explained by the "reality" of media freedom, but other predictors are significant nonetheless.

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