Sign up for weekly updates

RSF's 2013 world press freedom index: dashed hopes after spring


(RSF/IFEX) - After the "Arab springs" and other protest movements that prompted many rises and falls in last year's index, the 2013 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index marks a return to a more usual configuration. The ranking of most countries is no longer attributable to dramatic political developments. This year's index is a better reflection of the attitudes and intentions of governments towards media freedom in the medium or long term.

The same three European countries that headed the index last year hold the top three positions again this year. For the third year running, Finland has distinguished itself as the country that most respects media freedom. It is followed by the Netherlands and Norway. Although many criteria are considered, ranging from legislation to violence against journalists, democratic countries occupy the top of the index while dictatorial countries occupy the last three positions. Again it is the same three as last year - Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea.

"The Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted," Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. "In dictatorships, news providers and their families are exposed to ruthless reprisals, while in democracies news providers have to cope with the media's economic crises and conflicts of interest. While their situation is not always comparable, we should pay tribute to all those who resist pressure whether it is aggressively focused or diffuse."

Coinciding with the release of its 2013 Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders is for the first time publishing an annual global "indicator" of worldwide media freedom. This new analytic tool measures the overall level of freedom of information in the world and the performance of the world's governments in their entirety as regards this key freedom. In view of the emergence of new technologies and the interdependence of governments and peoples, the freedom to produce and circulate news and information needs to be evaluated at the planetary as well as national level. Today, in 2013, the media freedom "indicator" stands at 3395, a point of reference for the years to come.

The indicator can also be broken down by region and, by means of weighting based on the population of each region, can be used to produce a score from zero to 100 in which zero represents total respect for media freedom. This produces a score of 17.5 for Europe, 30.0 for the Americas, 34.3 for Africa, 42.2 for Asia-Pacific and 45.3 for the former Soviet republics. Despite the Arab springs, the Middle East and North Africa region comes last with 48.5.

The high number of journalists and netizens killed in the course of their work in 2012 (the deadliest year ever registered by Reporters Without Borders in its annual roundup), naturally had a significant impact on the ranking of the countries where these murders took place, above all Somalia (175th, -11), Syria (176th, 0), Mexico (153rd, -4) and Pakistan (159th, -8).

Continue reading.

Read the press release in Arabic.

Latest Tweet:

U.S. documentary filmmakers face prison for filming protest | @pressfreedom @deiaschlosberg #USA