Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) released the 2022 edition of its annual World Press Freedom Index, and its rankings of 180 different countries mostly paint a dire picture of media independence across the world. According to the report, only two continents — North America and Europe — have countries where the press enjoys a “good” level of freedom. In contrast, RSF gives many Asian nations its lowest rating, where the press is beset by “very serious” challenges. Russia (155th), China (175th), and Myanmar (176th) are notable among the worst offenders.
Even more ominously, 2022 continues a global trend of slowly eroding press freedoms. For example, the number of countries assessed as having a “good” press climate declined from 26 in 2013 to just 8 countries now. Correspondingly, countries whose press freedom environment was rated as “very serious” increased from 20 to 28 in the past decade.
In a companion analysis of the index, RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire noted how information control has become a growing threat to the press. “The creation of media weaponry in authoritarian countries eliminates their citizens’ right to information but is also linked to the rise in international tension, which can lead to the worst kind of wars,” he explained. “Domestically, the ‘Fox News-ization’ of the media poses a fatal danger for democracies because it undermines the basis of civil harmony and tolerant public debate.”