Jenifer Whitten-Woodring

Additional Information

Author: Jennifer Whitten-Woodring

Date Issued: 2009

Language:  en_US

Publisher: International Studies Quarterly

Type:  Article

Subjects:  media, human rights, democracy, repression, censorship

International Studies Quarterly, "Watchdog or Lapdog? Media Freedom, Regime Type, and Government Respect for Human Rights"


"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."


International Studies Quarterly (2009) 53, 595–625

ISSN:  1468-2478 (online)||0020-8833 (print)