seal  Purdue News

September 11, 2003

Media bribery study identifies potential problem countries

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – A communication study shows that bribery of the media is most likely to occur in China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Pakistan, says a Purdue University communication expert.

"As the world becomes more global and more American companies work with international media, it's important for American journalists and public relations practitioners to understand the ethics in other countries," said Katerina Tsetsura, a doctoral candidate in the communication department.

Tsetsura, along with Dean Kruckeberg, professor of communication at the University of Northern Iowa, developed a comprehensive index that ranks 66 of the world's nations on the likelihood that print journalists at daily newspapers would seek or accept cash from government officials, businesses or other news sources, for news coverage. The study was released this month by the Institute for Public Relations.

Finland had the best rating out of the 66 countries, which were identified by their global, economic and political importance. The countries with the second best score were Denmark, New Zealand and Switzerland. Germany, Iceland and the United Kingdom tied for fourth place. The United States tied with Canada and three other countries for fifth place.

Because the phenomenon of cash for news coverage cannot be measured directly, Tsetsura and Kruckeberg developed this first-of-its-kind index that evaluates the likelihood of bribery. A composite index methodology was used to measure each country on the same eight factors:

• history of self-determination by citizens;

• comprehensive corruption laws with effective enforcement;

• accountability of government to all citizens;

• high adult literacy;

• high liberal and professional education of practicing journalists;

• well-established, publicized and enforceable journalism codes of professional ethics;

• free press, free speech and free flow of information; and

• high media competition.

Members of the International Public Relations Association and the International Press Institute were consulted about the variables used to identify the possibility of bribery. Data for the factors originated from secondary data sources, such as the World Bank Databases, 2001 Corruption Perception Index, International Journalism Network and Press Freedom Survey 2002.

The study was sponsored by Hürriyet, Turkey's leading daily newspaper and a member of Dogan Media Group, and commissioned jointly by the Institute for Public Relations of the United States and the International Public Relations Association as part of its Campaign for Media Transparency.

"Professionals in Turkey were concerned about incidents of bribery among their journalists, so they instigated this study to see how they compared with other countries," Tsetsura said. "Turkey ranked in the top third of countries with the most potential for corrupt media reporters.

"Right now we are working with the Institute for Public Relations to distribute the study to as many professionals in media and public relations as we can so they can acknowledge the potential for a problem in their counties. The next step is to update the study about every two years so countries can track if the factors that can influence bribery in journalism have changed. We also will continue to develop our research methodology and possibly extend the number of factors we used to judge the likelihood of bribery."

The complete report can be found at

Writer: Amy Patterson-Neubert, (765) 494-9723,

Source: Katerina Tsetsura, (765) 494-7790,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

* To the Purdue News and Photos Page