Article by Devra C. Moehler and Naunihal Singh in Political Research Quarterly, Vol. 64, No. 2, 2011.
Why do citizens in postauthoritarian African democracies trust government-owned broadcast media more than they trust private broadcasters, given the public media’s lack of independence and history of state propaganda? Analysis of Afrobarometer data from sixteen countries indicates that low political sophistication, illiberal attitudes, and support for incumbents are all associated with greater relative trust in government media. Citizens also prefer public broadcasters in polities with greater press freedom and lower corruption. These results suggest that private media need more democratic and critical citizens, rather than higher quality reporting and greater press freedom, to compete with the state media for influence and resources.