Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Leaks and Press Freedoms

by Casey B. Mulligan

New York Times

June 13, 2012

Government leaks and a free press are not always compatible.

Democracy is said to depend on freedom of the press and other news media, especially the freedom to publish information and opinions without approval or censure from government officials. Empirically, there is a strong correlation between press freedoms and the fairness of elections, absence of autocratic leaders and other hallmarks of democracy.

Full and complete freedoms of the press and other news media are not an automatic consequence of economic development, education and other factors thought to foster democracies. For example, a 2001 World Bank study of 97 countries found that governments commonly owned their nation’s television stations.

Even in Western Europe, countries otherwise known for their political freedoms, government television stations made up more than half of the television market.