The United States fell two spots on the list of countries with a free press thanks to the new President who constantly threatens the media.
“Donald Trump’s rise to power in the United States and the Brexit campaign in the United Kingdom were marked by high-profile media bashing, a highly toxic anti-media discourse that drove the world into a new era of post-truth, disinformation, and fake news,” Reporters Without Borders (RSF) stated.
In its annual Press Freedom Index, RSF warns that news media around the world is facing its greatest threat yet from governments. Those threats to the free press are greatest in Western democracies, the group said.
In the annual rankings, the U.S. fell two spots to No. 43. Chile and the U.K. also fell two positions, to Nos. 33 and 40, respectively.
Northern European countries ranked the highest, with Norway at No. 1, Sweden at No. 2 and Finland at No. 3. Denmark and the Netherlands rounded out the top five countries. Costa Rica (No. 6) and Jamaica (No. 8) are the only countries in the Western Hemisphere to finish in the top 10.
North Korea finished last among the 180 countries assessed in the ranking. China finished at No. 176 and Vietnam at No. 175. Syria is the deadliest country in the world for journalists, the group said.
RSF singled out anti-media campaigns by President Donald Trump in the U.S. and the Brexit campaign in the U.K. to explain the drop by those two countries in its rankings.
RSF also cited Western governments’ “obsession with surveillance and violations of the right to the confidentiality of sources” that contributed to various countries’ declines in the annual ranking. Former President Barack Obama prosecuted more whistleblowers than all the previous governments combined.
RSF ranked the Middle East and North Africa as the greatest violators of press freedom, posing deadly threats to journalists covering conflicts there. Eastern Europe and Central Asia finished as the second worst region for violating press rights, followed by the Asia-Pacific, Africa and the Americas. The EU and the Balkans is ranked as the region that most respects press freedom.
The reporting group singled out the Polish (down seven places) and Hungarian (down four places) right-wing governments that have clamped down on the media, and Turkey (down four places to No. 155) which “now distinguishes itself as the world’s biggest prison for media professionals.”
[China (176th) and Vietnam (175th), are the world’s biggest prisons for journalists and bloggers.]
Russia is at No. 148 on the list.
Nicaragua fell the furthest, 17 spots to No. 92, after (former Sandanista leader) President Daniel Ortega’s “controversial re-election” marked by censorship, intimidation, harassment and arbitrary arrest.
No journalists were murdered in Columbia in 2016 for the first time in the last seven years!
Italy is one of the countries most threatened by organized crime.
Published annually by RSF since 2002, the World Press Freedom Index measures the level of media freedom in 180 countries, including [the level of pluralism,] media independence[,] and respect for the safety and freedom of journalists. The 2017 Index takes account of violations that took place between January 1st and December 31stof 2016.
By Jim Vail