This paper empirically analyzes the joint impact of democracy and press freedom on corruption. Based in the theoretical literature, we argue that both institutional features are complements rather than substitutes in controlling corruption. Our regressions are based on a cross section of 170 countries covering the period from 2005 to 2010 as well as on panel evidence for 175 countries from 1996 to 2010. The results show that democratic elections only work in controlling corruption, if there is a certain degree of press freedom in a country, vice versa. Our policy implication is that democratic reforms are more effective if they are accompanied by institutional reforms strengthening the monitoring of politicians.