Reporters Without Borders this week released its 2017 World Press Freedom Index of 180 countries, which found media freedoms falling in democracies and that “nothing seems to be checking that fall.”
“The rate at which democracies are approaching the tipping point is alarming for all those who understand that, if media freedom is not secure, then none of the other freedoms can be guaranteed,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said in RSF’s analysis. “Where will this downward spiral take us?”
Nearly two thirds (62.2%) of the countries measured registered a deterioration in their situation, while the number of countries where the media freedom situation was “good” or “fairly good” fell by 2.3%.
Color changes in the Index world map since 2013
White: Good situation
Yellow: Satisfactory situation
Orange: Noticeable problem
Red: Difficult situation
Black: Very serious situation
The United States fell two rungs to 43rd, Poland fell seven spots to 54th, Hungary fell four places to 71st and Tanzania fell an alarming 12 spots to 83rd.
Turkey, which fell four places to 155th, now has the distinction of becoming the world’s biggest prison for media professionals, following the likes of China (176th) and Vietnam (175th), both which also imprison bloggers.
Unsurprisingly, a trio of Nordic countries — Norway, Sweden and Finland — remain in the lead, although even top-ranked Finland for six years had to surrender its number one position due to political pressure and conflicts of interest.
Turkmenistan, Eritrea, and North Korea have continued to monopolize the last three spots since 2005.