(21 April 2016) – Most of the movement in the World Press Freedom Index unveiled yesterday by Reporters Without Borders is indicative of a climate of fear and tension combined with increasing control over newsrooms by governments and private-sector interests.
The 2016 World Press Freedom Index reflects the intensity of the attacks on journalistic freedom and independence by governments, ideologies and private-sector interests during the past year. Seen as a benchmark throughout the world, the Index ranks 180 countries according to the freedom allowed journalists. It also includes indicators of the level of media freedom violations in each region.
These show that Europe (with 19.8 points) still has the freest media, followed distantly by Africa (36.9), which for the first time overtook the Americas (37.1), a region where violence against journalists is on the rise. Asia (43.8) and Eastern Europe/Central Asia (48.4) follow, while North Africa/Middle East (50.8) is still the region where journalists are most subjected to constraints of every kind.
Three north European countries head the rankings. They are Finland (ranked 1st, the position it has held since 2010), Netherlands (2nd, up 2 places) and Norway (3rd, down 1). The countries that rose most in the Index include Tunisia (96th, up 30), thanks to a decline in violence and legal proceedings, and Ukraine (107th, up 22), where the conflict in the east of the country abated.
The countries that fell farthest include Poland (47th, down 29), where the ultra-conservative government seized control of the public media. The same “infernal trio” are in the last three positions: Turkmenistan (178th), North Korea (179th) and Eritrea (180th).