World Press Freedom Day: Strong public support for ‘watchdog’ role backs African news media under attack


Amid growing concerns about government restrictions on media freedom, Africans overwhelmingly support an independent media that holds government accountable, according to new survey findings from Afrobarometer.

The findings, which are being released on World Press Freedom Day (May 3), show that a majority of African citizens support the media’s “watchdog” role, see the media as effective in revealing government mistakes and corruption, and affirm that journalists “rarely” or “never” abuse their freedom by publishing lies.

But views on the media’s role and performance vary widely by country and demographic group, and substantial proportions of the continent’s population believe that governments should have the right to restrict “harmful” reporting and that the media “often” or “always” abuses its freedom by publishing lies.

The report also tracks trends in Africans’ main sources of news, showing modest declines for radio and newspapers, gains for television and the Internet, and a substantial role for social media.

Titled “Strong public support for ‘watchdog’ role backs African news media under attack,” the report is based on nearly 54,000 interviews in 36 African countries in 2014/2015. It is available in English and French.

Download the full press release.