Quality of Government Sustains News Media Trust: A Cross-Country Comparative Study on The Effect of Quality of Government and Media Systems on News Media Trust in Europe
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The news media play important roles in consolidated democracies as a source of information, watchdog over the powerful and curators of the public sphere. In regimes undergoing democratic transition, news media can be essential vehicles for change. To fill these roles, the news media depend on trust from their audiences. However, we know little about how to maintain this trust, or what can potentially make it erode. This study uses data from the 29 participant countries in the European Social Survey to examine both individual and macro-level factors that are associated with trust. Using hierarchical linear modelling, I find that trust is strongly correlated to quality of government on the macro-level, and that there also is a significant, negative association between news media trust and the Polarized Pluralist media system. On the individual-level, I find a strong association between both political trust and news media trust, and perceived judicial impartiality and news media trust. Selected Schwartz-values are also tested, but although significant, they contribute little to reducing unexplained variance. Other findings on control variables are in line with previous research. In a democracy assistance context, these results indicate that building properly functioning institutions should be prioritized over media sector assistance in early stages of a democratic transition. In consolidated democracies, declining news media trust can potentially reveal a decline in quality of government.
PublisherThe University of Bergen
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