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Media with reputational concerns: yes men or watchdogs?

Sheen, Greg Chih-Hsin (2021) Media with reputational concerns: yes men or watchdogs? Political Science Research and Methods, 9 (2). 345 - 364. ISSN 2049-8470

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Identification Number: 10.1017/psrm.2019.42


During the political process, the electorate needs to determine the competence of the government by both observing its policy decisions and acquiring information from the media. However, media reports are often criticized for not being independent and truthful. This paper discusses whether the public can determine the quality of a government from media reports. In other words, are media outlets more likely to act as watchdogs or just as “yes men” to the government? This paper argues that, because of reputational concerns, the media usually avoid criticizing the government. The media only report truthfully when the expected competence of the government is sufficiently low and the probability for the voter to learn from other information sources is sufficiently high. Otherwise, media outlets—especially low-quality outlets—will pander to the government in their reporting. Policy bias or media capture is not required for the yes-man problem to prevail.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2019 The European Political Science Association
Divisions: Government
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2022 14:15
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2024 07:09

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