Newspaper Advertising in a Nontransparent Media Market: The Case of Iraqi Kurdistan (2014–2018)

Jiyan Faris, Pieter Maeseele, Kevin Smets


This article focuses on a particular aspect of media capture theory: advertising as a means of financing media outlets in a transitional democracy such as Iraqi Kurdistan. Its aim is to investigate the extent to which various social actors attempt to capture news media by choosing to provide financial support to some and withhold it from others through their allocation of advertisements and announcements. We report on the findings of a quantitative content analysis of the ads published in six major weekly and daily newspapers in the five-year period from 2014 through 2018 (N = 11,112). These findings provide information on the linkages between media organizations and powerful social actors within a nontransparent media environment, and shed new light on the nature and profile of both “partisan” and “independent” media outlets. We conclude by discussing the implications of these results with regard to the state of media capture in Iraqi Kurdistan.


Iraqi Kurdistan, transitional democracy, newspaper advertising, media capture, partisan media, independent media

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