Authors’ note: Earlier versions of this article were presented at the Peace Science Society 2006 North America Meeting and the Journeys in World Politics 2007 Workshop. I am grateful to Harold Clarke, Ann Crigler, Jim Granato, Paul Hensel, Patrick James, Karen Rasler, Douglas Van Belle, Carol Wise, the Journeys 2007 cohort, the ISQ editors, and three anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback on previous drafts of this project. Any remaining errors are my own. Finally, I wish to acknowledge the financial support of the USC Center for International Studies, Department of Political Science, School of International Relations, and the Letty and Peter Toma Prize. Replication materials, a technical report, and the appendix may be found on the International Studies Quarterly Web site (http://dvn.iq.harvard.edu/dvn/dv/isq).
Watchdog or Lapdog? Media Freedom, Regime Type, and Government Respect for Human Rights
Article first published online: 8 SEP 2009
© 2009 International Studies Association
International Studies Quarterly
Volume 53, Issue 3, pages 595–625, September 2009
How to Cite
Whitten-Woodring, J. (2009), Watchdog or Lapdog? Media Freedom, Regime Type, and Government Respect for Human Rights. International Studies Quarterly, 53: 595–625. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2009.00548.x
- Issue published online: 8 SEP 2009
- Article first published online: 8 SEP 2009
A main justification for press freedom is that free media will act as a watchdog over the government. While we would expect democracies to have free media and autocracies to have government-controlled media, some democracies have government-controlled media, and some autocracies have free media. How this mismatch between regime type and media system influences government behavior is a puzzle worth exploring. One of the most widely criticized government behaviors is the violation of physical integrity rights. The question posed here is, how does media freedom affect government respect for these rights? In this article, I theorize that the relationship between media freedom and government respect for human rights differs, depending on the presence of democratic institutions. The findings support my premise. Specifically, the influence of media freedom on government respect for human rights is negative for the most autocratic regimes and positive for only the most democratic regimes.