The Impact of Advertisers on Media and Journalism in Transitional Democracies: The Case of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

Jiyan Faris, Pieter Maeseele, Kevin Smets


Although previous research focused on how governments use advertising to control news media, this study expands the literature on media capture not only by examining how state actors and dominant political parties control the advertising sector in a transitional democracy such as the Kurdistan Region of Iraq but also by exploring the (in)direct impact of various social actors, including corporations, political candidates in election periods, and international nongovernmental organizations. It reports on the findings from 19 in-depth interviews with media professionals and officials from media regulatory authorities. The findings show that advertisers are driven not only by the motivation to influence media content but also by economic interests, such as the colonization of state resources, personal gain, and crony capitalism. We conclude by discussing how precarious socioeconomic conditions lead media professionals to develop informal networks with advertisers—in turn, allowing powerful social actors to use advertising for either capturing news media or expanding their networks with authorities—and how this impacts on journalism practice.


media capture, advertising, transitional democracies, Kurdistan Region of Iraq, media independence, journalistic professionalism

Full Text: