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V-Dem Lunch Seminar with Anita Gohdes

Research profile seminar

Anita Gohdes (visiting scholar 10-12 September)
Title: Explaining the Killings of Journalists by State Authorities

Abstract: Journalists play an important role in society by providing different views, divergent sources of information and transparency through investigative research. For this they are frequently targeted, harassed, and even killed. We ask why and under what conditions journalists are killed by state authorities. We specify the conditions under which killing journalists can serve as a low-cost and short-term strategy of local politicians to prevent the spread of unfavourable information. Building on previous research, we theorise that corruption within state institutions significantly shape the risks attached to killing members of the press. However, only in countries with democratic institutions that make political power conditional on electoral support will state authorities have an incentive to silence journalists. Therefore, democratic countries with high levels of institutional corruption and low levels of accountability are more likely to see journalists killed through state authorities than other regimes.

To test our theoretical expectations, we present new global data on the killing of journalists between 2002-2016. Our findings consistently show that more democratic regimes when combined with corruption and lack of judicial accountability significantly increase the risk for journalists to be killed by state authorities. Independent of corruption, democratic institutions do not help to improve the safety of journalists, even in the case of well-established democratic regimes.

Bio: Anita Gohdes is an Assistant Professor of International Relations at the University of Zurich. Her work focuses on communication technology and contentious politics, with a current emphasis on large- scale quantitative analyses of state behavior. She is currently completing a book project that theoretically and empirically investigates how governments use digital communication technology to inform their strategies of violent repression. Previously, she held a post-doctoral appointment within the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center International Security Program. Since 2009, she has worked for the California-based non-profit organization Human Rights Data Analysis Group. Her work has appeared in the Journal of Conflict Resolution, the Journal of Peace Research, and Conflict Management and Peace Science, among other outlets.


Date: 9/12/2018

Time: 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM

Categories: Social Sciences

Organizer: Department of Political Science/V-Dem

Location: B336, Stora Skansen

Contact person: Natalia Stepanova

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