Governments and non-state actors are largely still hostile to the media, two annual reports out today by Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalist find — again.
Of 180 countries Reporters Without Borders (RSF) surveyed in their annual 2014 Index, Finland ranked first in press freedoms for the fourth year, followed by the Netherlands and Norway, similar to last year. (The other top 10 countries were Luxembourg, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Denmark, Iceland, New Zealand, and Sweden.) On other end of the freedoms spectrum, Eritrea, North Korea, and Turkmenistan ranked as the top countries where freedom of information does not exist. (Syria, Somalia, China, Vietnam, Iran, Sudan, Lao, and Cuba followed suit.)
"The 2014 index underscores the negative correlation between freedom of information and conflicts, both open conflicts and undeclared ones," RSF's report concludes. Indeed, countries often associated with conflict in the news — like Mali, Central African Republic, Syria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Iraq — have continued to rank among the lowest.
The problem is not just violence, however. RSF's analysis continues: "Countries that pride themselves on being democracies and respecting the rule of law have not set an example, far from it. Freedom of information is too often sacrificed to an overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs, marking a disturbing retreat from democratic practices. Investigative journalism often suffers as a result."
Overall, the news on press freedoms this year is kind of a downer, with tens of journalists attacked, imprisoned, and killed worldwide. But this year RSF's online map of press freedoms comes in a 3D interactive version on its website, which is a plus.
Former BuzzFeed World Reporter, Current BuzzFeed News Contributor
Contact Miriam Berger at email@example.com.
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