Let the People Speak: A Multilevel Model of Supply and Demand for Press Freedom

Erik C. Nisbet, Elizabeth Stoycheff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Democracy and press freedom have a long, intertwined history. This article builds on previous research examining democratic consolidation by developing a theoretical model to explicate the multilevel relationships between the openness of national media systems and citizens' perceptions about press freedom in emerging democracies. We combine individual-level public opinion data from the 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Survey with institutional data from Freedom House to examine institutional and individual predictors of perceived supply and citizen demand for press freedom. The results of the analyses demonstrate a relationship between characteristics of national media systems and citizen perceptions and preferences about press freedom, although individual factors such as educational attainment, reliance on print media, evaluations of media and state performance, and regime support play a more meaningful role in shaping perceptions about press freedom. Theoretical implications for understanding citizen attitudes about press freedom and their relationship with democratization are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)720-741
Number of pages22
JournalCommunication Research
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • censorship
  • democracy
  • international
  • press freedom
  • public opinion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Communication
  • Linguistics and Language


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