Evaluating Discrepancies Between Public And Professional Assessments Of Media Freedom


Lee B. Becker, Cynthia English, Karin Deutch Karlekar, and Tudor Vlad


Media freedom at the level of the nation-state historically has been indexed by professional or elite evaluators. Surveys of the general public about media freedom provide an alternative - or complementary - strategy for assessing the level of media freedom in a country. This paper examines the correspondence between the assessments of media freedom by the elite and by the public. It finds that the elite evaluators and public largely agree in their assessments of media freedom. It then examines discrepant cases to determine if outliers represent methodological errors, cases where the public either lagged behind the elite assessments or anticipated them, or cases where there was a substantive difference between the elite and the public because they were measuring different things. The last of these explanations seems to be the likely one, given the data available.

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