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Freedom of Press


Unswerving cyclist
14 Mar 2002
Reporters sans frontières published an interesting article about their new "press freedom index" for 139 countries.

"Surprises among Western democracies: US below Costa Rica and Italy below Benin

Reporters Without Borders is publishing for the first time a worldwide index of countries according to their respect for press freedom. It also shows that such freedom is under threat everywhere, with the 20 bottom-ranked countries drawn from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe. The situation in especially bad in Asia, which contains the five worst offenders - North Korea, China, Burma, Turkmenistan and Bhutan.

The top end of the list shows that rich countries have no monopoly of press freedom. Costa Rica and Benin are examples of how growth of a free press does not just depend on a country's material prosperity.

The index was drawn up by asking journalists, researchers and legal experts to answer 50 questions about the whole range of press freedom violations (such as murders or arrests of journalists, censorship, pressure, state monopolies in various fields, punishment of press law offences and regulation of the media). The final list includes 139 countries. The others were not included in the absence of reliable information."

=> RSF

Japan ranks at #26, ex aequo with South Africa and Austria.

I read the article and it left me pondering if we should not also be attempting to know of the top 30, how many of them are free from "spinning" the press, and which attempt to insure that no subtle propaganda are allowed to be purported as "news."

Probably no country is free of spinning the news, but it's symptomatic that Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands top the list, for they are closest to the so-called concept of "civil society" (whatever that actually means). Reporters sans frontiティres is an organization of integrity, so their numbers at least reflect a trend.
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