Thursday, October 20, 2005

Courtesy of the New Economist, a new study on press freedom and corruption discusses whether or not press freedom reduces corruption. Although the statistics and overall model of their study are well documented and solid, I do have a problem with the data they used when looking at corruption. For this they used the Corruption Perception Index, which documents perceptions of corruption around the world (quite comprehensive).

Obviously, my problem is with the assumption that perception of corruption accurately portrays corruption. Although in many studies this probably would not result in a large skewing of analysis, I believe one has to consider the possible causal link between people's perceptions of the press and their perceptions of the government. If they see their press as being controlled by the government, it seems likely that they would view their government as being corrupt. In other words, this study demonstrates, a connection between people's perceptions of the government corruption and press freedom, not goverment corruption and press freedom. As such, I think a more likely conclusion than "press freedom is bad for corruption" (p9) is my aforementioned thesis that "press freedom is perceived as being bad for corruption."

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