Promoting Independent Media in an Autocracy: Evidence from an E-Newspaper Distribution Experiment

How does access to independent digital media affect citizens' knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors in an autocracy? A growing body of work has sought to explore how independent digital media shapes public opinion in autocracies, yet to date no experimental studies have been conducted in the developing world. In this project, researchers will partner with a Tanzanian start-up to estimate the effects of an innovative technology that allows citizens to access independent local newspapers online via their smartphones. Tanzanian citizens will be randomly treated with one month of free daily access to two local e-newspapers known for their unbiased political reporting; a placebo control group will receive free access to non-political newspapers only. After four weeks, a phone- based survey will assess a range of outcomes, including participants' political and civic knowledge, political attitudes, political interest, and intentions to participate in politics.

RFP Cycle:
RFP 21 Spring 2023
  • Pilot project