In modern democracies, elections are considered the central mechanism for people to control their elected representatives. They allow voters who are dissatisfied with those in power to periodically punish and replace them. However, this requires that political decision-making is transparent and that alternative party options are actually evident in the electoral contest. Accordingly, in line with mobilization theory, we assume that well-balanced and critical media coverage leads to a higher turnout. So far, only few studies exist which test these assumptions in a large comparative setting. To provide more empirical evidence on the relationship between media coverage and political participation, we combine data about press systems and from newspaper content analyses with opinion surveys and perform multi-level analyses. Contrary to our assumptions, we find that an ideological balance within the press system does not motivate citizens to take part in elections. In addition, newspapers reports about official misconduct tend to keep voters away from the ballot boxes. These findings rather lend support to media malaise theory.