Coercive Diplomacy and Press Freedom: An Empirical Assessment of the Impact of Economic Sanctions on Media Openness


Despite the central role the media play in the domestic and foreign policy-making processes, very little research examines the influence of international factors on media openness. This article investigates the impact of coercive diplomacy (in the form of economic sanctions) on press freedom. It is argued that foreign economic coercion will likely deteriorate press freedom by (1) restricting a sanctioned country's interactions with the outside world, thereby allowing the target regime to have greater control over the free flows of information, and (2) inflicting significant economic damage on the sustainability and development of independent media outlets. Using time-series, cross-national empirical data over a large number of countries for the period 1980-2000, the findings confirm economic sanctions' negative effect on media openness. Extensive sanctions, in particular, have a greater negative impact on press freedom than more selective sanctions. Furthermore, multilateral sanctions will likely have a greater corrosive impact on media openness than unilateral sanctions. © The Author(s) 2010.

Publication Title

International Political Science Review