2017 Afrobarometer Survey – Media More Trusted Than Politicians, Police Still Tops

The Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) has just released its 2017 Afrobarometer report.

Although a majority of Ghanaians say the media now has more freedom than a few years ago to investigate and criticize the government, popular support for a free media has dropped sharply, according to Afrobarometer survey data.

A majority of citizens say the government should have the right to prevent the media from publishing things that it considers harmful to society. This is a reversal of attitudes during previous survey rounds between 2005 and 2014, in which majority of Ghanaians consistently endorsed media freedom from government interference.

Different socio-demographic groups show only modest differences in support for media freedom.

The survey findings also show that majority of citizens say they trust information from the media, but many also see at least some members of the media as corrupt. Members of the media, however, fare considerably better than the police, judges, elected leaders, and perceptions of corruption.

Comparing responses across 21 countries sampled in Afrobarometer’s most recent survey round, Ghana scores well below average in terms of supporting media freedom, a sharp contrast with Ghana’s No. 23 ranking (No. 1 among African countries) on the 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

The Media Foundation for West Africa cities declining popular support for journalists- due in part to perceptions of fallen ethical standards and corruption- as a prime reason behind violent attacks on journalist6s, often by security personnel or police and generally unpunished.

Key findings

Around six in 10 Ghanaians (62%) say the media has more freedom than a few years ago to investigate and criticize government actions, but only about one in three (36%) support full media freedom figure 1. A majority (57% say instead that the government should have the right to prevent the publication of information it deems harmful to society.

There has been a sharp drop in support for media freedom, from 55% in 2005 to 36% in 2017 (figure 2).

Urban and rural residents hold almost identical views on media freedom, as do different age groupings. Men are slightly more likely than women to support a free media (39% vs 34%), and respondents with no formal education are less supportive of media counterparts.