The 2005 World Press Freedom Index
Western democracies lose ground:
the US falls more than 20 places
Colombia, Mexico and Cuba are holding back the continent
North Korea once again ranks last in the Reporters Without Borders fourth annual World Press Freedom Index. On this 167-country list, North Korea is in last place, closely preceded by Eritrea (166th) and Turkmenistan (165th), the other â€œblack holesâ€? for news where the privately-owned media is non-existent and there is no freedom of expression.
Journalists working for the â€?officialâ€? media in these countries are little more than mouthpieces for government propaganda. Anyone out of step is harshly dealt with: one word too many, any commentary that deviates from the official party line, a misspelled nameâ€”and the author may be thrown in prison or incur the wrath of those in power. Harassment, psychological pressure, intimidation and 24-hour surveillance are routine.
The situation in Iraq (157th) worsened in 2005 when the safety of journalists became even more precarious than in 2004. At least 24 journalists and media assistants have been killed so far this year, making it the mostly deadly conflict for the media since World War IIâ€”a conflict that proved more deadly for the media in a few months than during the entire Vietnam War. A total of 72 media workers have been killed since the fighting began in March 2003.
Western democracies lose ground
Some Western democracies slipped in the Index. The United States (44th) fell more than 20 places, mainly because of the imprisonment of New York Times reporter Judith Miller and judicial action that is undermining the privacy of journalistic sources. Federal courts are getting increasingly bold about subpoenaing journalists and trying to force them to disclose their confidential sources.
Leading the Index once again are northern European countries Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, Norway and the Netherlands, where robust press freedom is alive and well. The top 10 are all European. The highest-ranking countries in other continents are New Zealand (12th), Trinidad and Tobago (12th), Benin (25th) and South Korea (34th).
[a former member]
2005-10-19 08:24:42 UTC
Jun 24 2006