By the numbers: tracing the statistical correlation between press freedom and democracy

Mass media News media Freedom of the press Democracy

Preface: Many scholars and practitioners in the fields of democracy and media freedom would support the proposition that the two are intimately connected, but the exact relationship between them and the degree of causality between changes in one with changes in the other has not been the subject of extensive research. This study attempts to address this gap, demonstrating through broad empirical analysis and a range of country case studies that press freedom is an integral part of freedom generally. Trends in one move most often in tandem with trends in the other, suggesting both that media freedom is unlikely to emerge and be sustained in the absence of improvements in broader political rights and civil liberties and that declines in press freedom almost always accompany or foreshadow a downturn in freedom more broadly. These findings have implications for academic or theoretical analysis, as well as for those who work in the fields of democracy promotion and media development.

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