Press freedom is declining globally, warns Reporters Without Borders/Reporters sans frontières, today releasing the 2017 World Press Freedom Index showing press freedoms “in the worst state we have ever seen.”
“Once taken for granted, media freedom is proving to be increasingly fragile in democracies,” said an RSF analysis. Authoritarian regimes and dictatorships are not the only culprits for abuse, it said. “In sickening statements, draconian laws, conflicts of interest, and even the use of physical violence, democratic governments are trampling on a freedom that should, in principle, be one of their leading performance indicators. “
Even the leading European democracies have declined, notably Finland and the Netherlands, said RSF.
“By eroding this fundamental freedom on the grounds of protecting their citizens, the democracies are in danger of losing their souls,” said RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire.
From FSF’s press statement:
Media freedom has retreated wherever the authoritarian strongman model has triumphed. Democracies began falling in the Index in preceding years and now, more than ever, nothing seems to be checking that fall.
RSF’s “global indicator” has never been so high (3872). This measure of the overall level of media freedom constraints and violations worldwide has risen 14% in the span of five years.
As we have reached the age of post-truth, propaganda, and suppression of freedoms, this 2017 World Press Freedom Index highlights the danger of a tipping point in the state of media freedom, especially in leading democratic countries.
European countries — which also rank high on assessments of citizen happiness and economic competitiveness — ranked at the top of 180 countries, led by Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and the Netherlands.
Canada dropped four spots in one year to 22. France and the United Kingdom ranked 39 and 40 respectively, with the United States at 43. Mexico is far less free, at 143; Russia at 148, and China at 176. Dead last is North Korea. The biggest change is in Italy, which jumped 25 spots year over year to 52nd place.
RSF bases its results on a questionnaire about pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information. It explains its methodology here.
Compare press freedoms where you live to other countries using RSF’s table, here.
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