In modern democracies elections are considered the central mechanism for people to control their political representatives. Yet, an effective control requires both knowledge of incumbents’ past per-formance and visibility of alternative party options in electoral contests. This paper evaluates how the media system contributes to these premises. By means of cross-national and multilevel analysis, we test whether well-balanced and critical media coverage mobilizes voters and levels out the impact of individual prerequisites for political participation. Our results indicate, first, that ideological-ly biased press systems lead to higher turnout and reduce the importance of personal resources and characteristics. Second, we find that the more often newspapers cover improper behavior by officials, the less likely voters are to cast a vote.