Media with reputational concerns: Yes men or watchdogs?

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


During the political process, the electorate needs to determine the competence of the government by both observing its policy decisions and acquiring information from the media. However, media reports are often criticized for not being independent and truthful. This paper discusses whether the public can determine the quality of a government from media reports. In other words, are media outlets more likely to act as watchdogs or just as yes men to the government? This paper argues that, because of reputational concerns, the media usually avoid criticizing the government. The media only report truthfully when the expected competence of the government is sufficiently low and the probability for the voter to learn from other information sources is sufficiently high. Otherwise, media outlets-especially low-quality outlets-will pander to the government in their reporting. Policy bias or media capture is not required for the yes-man problem to prevail.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)345-364
Number of pages20
JournalPolitical Science Research and Methods
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Apr

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


Dive into the research topics of 'Media with reputational concerns: Yes men or watchdogs?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this