In modern democracies elections are considered the central mechanism for people to control their political representatives. Yet, an effective control requires both knowledge of the incumbents’ performance and visibility of alternative party options in electoral contests. This paper evaluates how the press system contributes to these premises. By means of cross-national multilevel analysis, we test whether well-balanced and critical media coverage mobilizes voters to go to the polls and countervails the impact of individual prerequisites for political participation. Contrary to normative ex-pectations, our results indicate that ideologically biased press systems lead to higher turnout and reduce the importance of personal resources and characteristics.