African publics back rights, responsibilities of media watchdogs

Free speech

A majority of Africans support an independent news media and expect the press to play an active role in reporting on poor government performance and corruption, a new analysis of Afrobarometer survey data shows.

In surveys representing more than three-fourths of the continent’s population, 57% of respondents demand media freedom, although some countries and regions are more willing to tolerate government control than others. Less educated citizens are less likely to support a free news media that holds governments accountable.

Almost two-thirds of Africans say the media is effective in its watchdog role, but significant proportions – and in some countries large majorities – say the news media abuses its freedom by publishing lies.

In observance of World Press Freedom Day (May 3), this Afrobarometer analysis highlights everyday Africans’ news habits and attitudes regarding media freedom, trustworthiness, and effectiveness. Results are detailed in Afrobarometer Dispatch No. 27

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