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Detailed methodology

2002 edition. 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.

The index measures the amount of freedom journalists and the media have in each country and the efforts made by governments to see that press freedom is respected.

Reporters Without Borders sent out a questionnaire based on the main criteria for such freedom and asking for details of direct attacks on journalists (such as murders, imprisonment, physical assaults and threats) and on the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and pressure). It also asked about the degree of impunity enjoyed by those responsible for such violations.

The questionnaire

The questionnaire recorded the legal environment for the media (such as punishment for press offences, a state monopoly in some areas and the existence of a regulatory body) and the behaviour of the state towards the public media and the foreign press. It also noted the main threats to the free flow of information on the Internet.

Reporters Without Borders has not just taken into account the excesses of the state, but also those of armed militias, underground organisations and pressure groups that can be serious threats to press freedom. In addition, the state does not always use all its resources to fight the impunity the perpetrators of such violence very often have.

The questionnaire was sent to people with a real knowledge of the press freedom situation in one or more countries, such as local journalists or foreign correspondents living in the country, researchers, legal experts, specialists on a region and the researchers of the Reporters Without Borders International Secretariat.


The countries included in the index are those about which Reporters Without Borders received completed questionnaires from several independent sources. Other countries have not been included for lack of reliable information. Countries that got equal scores have been ranked in alphabetical order.

This index of press freedom is a portrait of the situation based on events between September 2001 and October 2002. It does not take account of all human rights violations, only those that affect press freedom.

Neither is it an indicator of the quality of a country’s media. Reporters Without Borders defends press freedom without regard to the content of the media, so any ethical or professional departures from the norm have not been taken into account.