Global press freedom on downward trend: World Press Freedom Index

2018 World Press Freedom Index, which ranks freedom of journalists in 180 countries, raises safety concerns.

    Norway has the most freedom of the press and North Korea the least, according to the report [Hussein Malla/The Associated Press]
    Norway has the most freedom of the press and North Korea the least, according to the report [Hussein Malla/The Associated Press]

    Journalists around the world face more hostility towards their work, a trend encouraged by an increasing number of politicians inhibiting journalism, according to the 2018 World Press Freedom Index.

    The annual report, published on Wednesday by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), reflects the state of journalism around the globe.

    According to the index, journalists face more hatred than last year, not only in authoritarian countries but also increasingly in countries with democratically elected leaders.

    Norway tops the list as the country where journalists have the most freedom, followed by Sweden and the Netherlands. North Korea is at the bottom of the list, just below Eritrea and Turkmenistan.

    The Gambia has seen the biggest improvement in press freedom, rising 21 spots to 122 out of 180. It is followed by South Korea and Greece, which rose 20 and 14 places respectively.  

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    Malta, Mauritania and the Czech Republic saw the biggest drops, dropping 18, 17 and 11 places respectively.

    RSF points to the United States and the Philippines as democratic countries where threats to journalists by political leaders have had a negative influence on freedom of the press.

    Both countries dropped several places in the ranking.

    "The unleashing of hatred towards journalists is one of the worst threats to democracies," RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said in a statement.

    "Political leaders who fuel loathing for reporters bear heavy responsibility because they undermine the concept of public debate based on facts instead of propaganda," he added.

    "To dispute the legitimacy of journalism today is to play with extremely dangerous political fire."

    The report also analysed press freedom in five regions, with the Middle East and North Africa region being the worst for journalists.

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    Wars in Syria, Iraq and Yemen play a big part in this, but Egypt, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia are also singled out as countries where it is extremely hard for journalists to do their job.

    Europe, the safest region for journalists, has seen the steepest decline in the regional rankings.

    As examples of decreasing press freedom there, the report cited the killings of Maltese and Slovak investigative journalists and former Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman bringing a fake gun with the words 'for journalists' engraved on it to a press conference.

    Overall, the 2018 report concludes, global press freedom is in a worse state than it was last year and a record number of countries this year have been classified as having "very bad" freedom of the press.

    Journalism is Not a Crime: The Story of Mahmoud Hussein

    Al Jazeera World

    Journalism is Not a Crime: The Story of Mahmoud Hussein

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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