The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on April 25, 2018 released the World Press Freedom Index 2018, reflecting growing animosity towards journalists. Published annually by Reporters Without Borders since 2002, the World Press Freedom Index measures the level of media freedom in 180 countries. India’s rank dropped down to 138th this year from 136th in 2017, two points below the previous year.
This year, the index has been topped by Norway again for the second year, followed by Sweden at second and the Netherlands at third. Although Nordic countries dominate the index, they too were affected by the overall decline.
• The report points out that more and more democratically-elected leaders no longer see media as a part of democracy, but as a rival. For instance, the US Congress narrowed the freedom of press and the freedom of speech last year, which only led to its fall in the index from rank 43 in 2017 to rank 45 this year.
• The index also reflected the growing influence of political heads and rival models. For example, Putin’s Russia extended its propaganda network by means of media outlets such as RT and Sputnik and got 148th rank, while Xi Jinping’s China (176th rank) exported its tightly controlled news and information model in Asia.
• In the Asia-Pacific region, South Korea jumped 20 places to 43rd rank, after Moon Jae-In’s election as the President.
• However, North Asia’s democracies are still struggling to defend themselves against Chinese media which is getting closer and closer to a contemporary version of totalitarianism.
World Press Freedom Index :
The Index is published annually by RSF and is an important advocacy tool based on the principle of emulation between states.
• It is based on an evaluation of media freedom that measures pluralism, media independence, the quality of the legal framework and the safety of journalists in 180 countries. It also includes indicators of the level of media freedom violations in each region.
• The global indicator and the regional indicators show that there has been a deep and disturbing decline in respect for media freedom throughout the world.