on the levels of coverage of foreign disasters, and if it does not influence coverage levels, there is no basis for arguing that it has an indirect effect on aid levels through the levels of news media coverage.
As the analyses suggest, press freedom does not appear to have much effect on more cooperative aspects of global politics such as aid. Aid is not the only form of cooperative interaction in global politics, but, given the strong results generated in other analyses for a positive relationship between aid levels and news media coverage levels, it is an area of cooperation where a plausible causal link could be asserted to exist between press freedom and specific policy acts.
Further, there is little from the analysis to suggest that other forms of cooperative activity might influenced by press freedom. It seems clear from the results presented in Table 7.3 that the indirect mechanism proposed, where press freedom would enhance coverage levels, which would then enhance aid, clearly is not functioning as hypothesized. Press freedom has no discernable effect on the level of disaster coverage. An alternative argument might be that even if the levels of coverage do not increase, press freedom has an effect on the content of the coverage as it relates to concerns of legitimacy and presumed accuracy. Coverage from free press states might be perceived as more accurate representations of the true situation than the censored or limited reports from restricted press countries. This, in turn, might influence aid by giving policy makers greater confidence in their assessments and making them more willing to provide aid because they are more certain that they know that it is needed and how it is needed. If this had a substantial and consistent influence on development or disaster aid, it should have shown up as a direct effect of press freedom in the regression equations that included news media coverage levels (Table 7.1, columns 1 and 2; Table 7.2, column 1). Clearly it did not.
Again, none of this rules out a connection between press freedom and cooperative activities, or even a connection between press freedom and aid allocations. What these results do is reduce any expectation that there might be a substantial and prominent relationship. What relationships there may be are most likely modest and subtle.