Media independence and trust in NGOs: The case of postcommunist countries

Taedong Lee, Erica Johnson, Aseem Prakash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Why do levels of public trust in NGOs vary across postcommunist countries? How does media independence influence these trust levels? The authors begin from the premise that citizens develop trust in NGOs when they believe that NGOs function according to their normative expectations and they receive regular information about NGOs' activities.Media has a crucial role in both these regards, especially in the context of countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, where the NGO sector is in a nascent stage and citizens lack prior experiences with NGOs as activist organizations and providers of public goods and services.First, media can provide information about NGO activities that enables citizens to develop opinions about individual NGOs and NGOs as a category of social actors.Second, media can serve as a vehicle to monitor the activities of NGOs and make them accountable.However, media may have its own biases and provide misleading information about NGOs. Thus the authors expect that media independence is associated with trust in NGOs.They analyze the relationship between NGO trust and media independence using a time-series and cross-section panel of 28 postcommunist countries from 1997 to 2006, controlling for a range of domestic and international factors that might influence trust in the NGO sector.Our analysis suggests that independent media is positively associated with trust in NGOs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8-35
Number of pages28
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Feb

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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