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.
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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.
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.
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.