Freedom of the Press is in Decline
Freedom of the Press is in Decline
According to the Reporters Without Borders annual World Press Freedom Index (RWBFI), freedom of information fell sharply around the world last year. The RWBIF ranks the performance of 180 countries according to a range of criteria that includes; media pluralism and independence, respect for the safety and freedom of journalists, and the legislative, institutional and infrastructural environment in which the media operate.
Not surprisingly, the three Scandinavian countries are at the top of the list: Finland, which has been in first place for the last five years, followed by Norway and Denmark. At the other end of the list are Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea, as the worst performers.
The 2015 World Press Freedom Index highlights the world deterioration in freedom of information in 2014. Predominantly due to wars, the growing threat of non-state operative, violence during demonstrations and the economic crisis, leading to the conclusion that the freedom of the press is in retreat in all five continents.
Of the 180 countries that were surveyed, two-thirds preformed worse than they had in the previous year. The survey also recognized that the overall number of violations of freedom of information in all 18 countries surveyed, had risen by 8 per cent throughout 2014 and had risen almost 10 per cent in comparison to 2013.
The sharpest point in the decline being in the European Union: Italy fell 24 places, as journalists were being threatened by the mafia and unjustified defamation suits dramatically increased; in Iceland f relations between politicians and media worsened, whilst Andorra saw the sharpest fall of all. Here, lack of independence of the media is due to financial, political and religious interests. Andorra fell 27 places due to the difficulty journalists faced in covering activities of the Andorran banks, as well as the lack of legal protection for freedom of information, such as the confidentiality of journalists’ sources.
Reasons behind these worrying declines can be attributed to a variety of factors. Conflicts that proliferated in 2014 such as those in the Middle East, Ukraine, Syria and Iraq where all parties, without exception, waged an information war. Non-state groups such as Boko Haram and Islamic State as well as drug traffickers and the mafia used fear and reprisals to silence journalists and bloggers who attempted to investigate them or act as their mouthpieces.
The criminalization of blasphemy in some countries endangered the freedom of information. Demonstrations have also become difficult to cover due to violence towards reporters. Democracies have also started to take liberties with their vales in the name of national security, with laws aimed at muzzling independent voices. Finally, in authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East have tightened up control in 2014 over news and information.
However, there are positives to be taken from the index, as there are many countries that are on the rise within the index. Mongolia for instance raised 34 places, the Index’s biggest jump, with only few violations in 2014. Tonga raised 19 places after it held its first democratic election 2010 which strengthen its position thanks to an independent press.
Nina is in her Honours year at The University of Strathclyde in Glasgow studying History. She loves keeping fit and healthy at the gym and singing to her hearts content. Because of Nina's love of all things history related, she has a passion for reading, writing and researching. Nina is the Editor-in-Chief for an online magazine for female students at Strathclyde called Her Campus Strath and wants to continue her passion for writing after graduation.