Capturing the Airwaves, Capturing the Nation? A Field Experiment on State-Run Media Effects in the Wake of a Coup

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Authors Jaimie Bleck, Kristin Michelitch
Journal/Conference Name THE JOURNAL OF POLITICS
Paper Category
Paper Abstract Investigating the media’s effect on citizens immediately after a nondemocratic regime transition has thus far remained elusive to scholars, despite the frequency of such transitions. This study examines the effect of putschist-controlled broadcasting in the wake of Mali’s 2012 coup and separatist insurgency. We leverage a field experiment of a radio (vs. flashlight) distribution program in an area where citizens’ only form of mass media is state-run radio. The putschists waged a campaign infused with nationalism to attempt to legitimize their rule. We find that, while radio exposure boosted national identity importance and willingness to delay elections, it did not elevate explicit approval for the junta, which suggests that nondemocratic regimes are less able to win approval using state broadcasting than previously thought, even while such broadcasting may affect citizens’ attitudes and identity.
Date of publication 2017
Code Programming Language R

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