According to the latest annual report by Reporters Without Borders, press freedom and safety for journalists around the world is deteriorating.
The 2019 World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), shows that the number of countries regarded as safe for journalists has continued to decline while authoritarian regimes strengthen their grip over the media.
After evaluating the state of journalism in 180 countries and territories, only 24% of the countries studied in the RSF Index were classified as “good” for the practice of a free press, a decline when compared to the 2018 ranking of 26%, showing that there exists a substantial climate of fear throughout the industry.
Norway recorded the best score for press freedom, followed by Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, New Zealand, Jamaica, Belgium, and Costa Rica, while Eritrea, North Korea, and Turkmenistan ranked lowest, countries where the level of violence used to persecute journalists who cross authorities appears to know no limits.
Of all the world’s regions, it is the Americas (North and South) that has suffered the greatest deterioration (3.6%) in its regional score measuring the level of press freedom, constraints, and violations in the past year.
An increasingly hostile climate in the United States, which includes yet also goes beyond Donald Trump’s social media comments, saw the US placed 48th, falling three places in this year’s Index, with the media climate classified as “problematic.”
Never before have US journalists been subjected to so many death threats or turned so often to private security firms for protection. Disdain for the media is now such that a man walked into the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, in June 2018 and opened fire, killing four journalists and one other member of the newspaper’s staff. The gunman had repeatedly expressed his hatred for the paper on social networks before carrying out the act.
As for other regions, Eastern Europe and Central Asia continue to rank second-from-last in the Index, the same position they have held for a number of years, while the European Union and Balkans registered the second biggest deterioration (1.7%) in its regional score.
Although the deterioration in its regional score was smaller, the Middle East and North Africa continues to be the most dangerous region for journalists. Africa registered the smallest deterioration in its regional score in the 2019 Index, but also some of the biggest fluctuations in individual country rankings.