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Press freedom under Siege: Political forces diminish media independence, RSF 2024 Index Reports

The 2024 World Press Freedom Index reveals a worrying trend: political authorities are increasingly threatening press freedom. Released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the report shows a notable deterioration in political indicators and a global decline in support for independent journalism.



Released on World Press Freedom Day (3 May), the 2024 World Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) unveils a distressing trend: political authorities worldwide are increasingly threatening the very essence of press freedom.

This year’s findings highlight a notable deterioration in political indicators, demonstrating a lack of governmental support for independent journalism.

Anne Bocandé, RSF’s editorial director, expressed concern over the global average fall of 7.6 points in the political indicators.

“In an election-heavy year with more than half the global population voting, the political commitment to safeguard press freedom is alarmingly weak,” she noted.

The index reveals that many governments are failing in their role as protectors of the press, opting instead for a path that often leads to media repression and censorship.

Global Overview and Notable Declines

The war in Gaza has highlighted extreme dangers for journalists, with over 100 Palestinian reporters killed since October 2023, marking a dire chapter for media safety in conflict zones.

Palestine itself ranks 157th out of 180 countries, near the bottom in terms of overall press freedom and security for journalists.

In the backdrop of the largest election year in history, the RSF report has spotlighted the use of sophisticated disinformation tactics, including generative AI.

The Slovak parliamentary elections were marred by an audio deepfake of journalist Monika Todova, demonstrating a new frontier in election manipulation, with Slovakia dropping 12 places to rank 29th.

Several countries have seen significant backslides in press freedom. Argentina, with President Javier Milei’s crackdown on media, fell 26 places to 66th.

In Africa, the military coups in countries like Niger (down 19 to 80th), Burkina Faso (down 28 to 86th), and Mali (down one to 114th) have drastically tightened control over the media.

Regional Insights

In Europe, while Norway remains the frontrunner in press freedom, it has experienced a decrease in its political score. Denmark and Sweden follow, ranking second and third, respectively, reflecting a more stable media environment compared to their global counterparts.

However, the European landscape is not without issues; countries like Hungary, Malta, and Greece are the lowest-ranked within the EU, primarily due to political pressure and challenges to media freedom.

The Americas have witnessed a concerning decline in media safety, particularly with regards to covering corruption and organized crime.

The United States fell ten places due to increased hostility towards journalists. Mexico remains one of the deadliest countries for journalists, with 37 killed since 2019.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s situation is increasingly volatile, especially in countries like Nigeria, Togo, and Madagascar, which have been impacted by political violence and repression against reporters.

The Sahel region, in particular, has become more dangerous for journalists, with significant security declines noted in several countries.

Asia-Pacific and Middle East Regions: Centers of Concern

The Asia-Pacific region remains fraught with peril for journalists, with Myanmar, China, North Korea, Vietnam, and Afghanistan among the ten most dangerous countries globally for media personnel.

Meanwhile, the Middle East and North Africa continue to be the most challenging regions for journalists, with countries like Syria, Iran, and Egypt maintaining a very serious situation for press freedom.

Within the Asia-Pacific, some nations have seemingly improved in 2024 index, but these ascents are deceptive.

For instance, India, now ranked 159th, rose two places not due to improvements in its media landscape but because other countries deteriorated at a faster pace.

Recent legislative changes in India have introduced more draconian measures, hardly befitting a democratic society. Similarly, Hong Kong has climbed to 135th, up five places, despite an actual decline in its score. This rise is attributed to the intensified persecution of journalists following the national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020.

Singapore, on the other hand, despite a slight drop in its score, has moved up from 129th to 126th in the rankings. Conversely, Malaysia has experienced a significant fall, plummeting from 73rd to 107th, reflecting a substantial deterioration in its press freedom environment.

In contrast, no country from the Asia-Pacific is among the top 15 in this year’s index. New Zealand, despite falling six places, still leads the region at 19th, showcasing its continued, albeit challenged, commitment to press freedom.

Other regional democracies like Timor-Leste (20th), Samoa (22nd), and Taiwan (27th) maintain their status as benchmarks for press freedom in the region, despite facing their own challenges.

Concluding Observations

The 2024 World Press Freedom Index serves as a critical reminder of the ongoing challenges to media freedom and the essential role of political will in safeguarding journalistic integrity.

With the rise of digital threats and the persistence of political repression, the world’s political authorities must renew their commitment to uphold the freedom of the press.

The complete findings and interactive graphics of the index can be explored on the RSF website, offering an in-depth look at each country’s performance and the broader trends affecting global journalism.

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The War on Palestinians(including those in Gaza)showed that the media is least free in the USA,Australia and the UK.

Relatively unbiased coverage can only be obtained from CTGN , Al Jazeera and surprisingly some Israeli media.

Singapore, on the other hand, despite a slight drop in its score, has moved up from 129th to 126th in the rankings. 🙄

We didnt do too badly , did we?
In fact improved a bit…😂🤣😅