The media’s role in fighting corruption: evidence from the Spanish case

Autor principal:
Jesús Palomo (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos)
Anna Palau (Universitat de Barcelona)
Sesión 2, Sesión 2
Día: miércoles, 10 de julio de 2019
Hora: 12:30 a 14:30
Lugar: Aula 003B

The media are considered as playing a key role in creating and maintaining an atmosphere that discourages corruption. However, beyond the role that freedom of press plays in helping to combat corruption, we have little empirical information about the circumstances under which they actually perform this function. In order to contribute to this largely unexplored field of research, this paper analyzes how the media frame corruption related stories, with a focus on two aspects. First, to what extent there is a pluralistic debate on corruption, with the media allowing a plurality of voices and interests to have a say in public debates. Second, to what extent the media promote a substantive debate on the topic, contributing to an informed and participatory citizenry. The analysis focuses in the case of Spain, a country that according to Transparency International is among the most corrupts in Europe. The paper shows that corruption stories are mainly associated with political parties and executive elites. Organizations from civil society and those with a key role in fighting corruption, the judiciary and the policy, have a secondary role. Results also illustrate that the media do not promote a substantive frame of corruption. Most media stories do not identify the causes and the consequences of corruption and do not propose remedies to control and reduce corruption. Overall, the Spanish media do not contribute to place effective checks against corruptors, promote political cynicism and a widespread sense of impunity, reinforcing the structure of incentives to engage in corruption related activities.

Palabras clave: corruption, media