【主题】Media Control When Pollution Occurs in China
Using data on Chinese local newspaper reports of water pollution events, this paper studies how local governments in autocratic regimes filter information to avoid political responsibilities. We find that, compared with less regulated nonparty newspapers, party newspapers are 33% less likely to report water pollution events, but more likely to report upstream pollution, especially those caused by state-owned companies. However, there is no significant difference between party and nonparty newspapers in covering flood events, for which local governments are not responsible. The results are robust, even after considering water quality measures and market forces, such as circulation and advertising. We also find that party newspapers tend to report less about water pollutions especially when policies emphasize strengthening media control or when party newspapers are faced with relatively low level of competition in reporting news. This study provides empirical evidence that, due to media control and competition between local governments, governments in authoritarian regimes try to achieve their own goals through media control, which potentially conflicts to the interests of consumers.