2013 to 2021 editions. The degree of freedom available to journalists in 180 countries is determined by pooling the responses of experts to a questionnaire devised by RSF. This qualitative analysis is combined with quantitative data on abuses and acts of violence against journalists during the period evaluated. The criteria evaluated in the questionnaire are pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.
To compile the Index, RSF has developed an online questionnaire with 87 questions focused on these criteria are asked. Translated into 20 languages including English, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Indonesian and Korean, the questionnaire is targeted at the media professionals, lawyers and sociologists who are asked to complete it. Scores are calculated on the basis of the responses of the experts selected by RSF combined with the data on abuses and violence against journalists during the period evaluated.
The data on abuses
A team of specialists, each assigned to a different geographical region, keeps a detailed tally of abuses and violence against journalists and media outlets. These researchers also rely on a network of correspondents in 130 countries. The Abuses indicator for each country is calculated on the basis of the data about the intensity of abuses and violence against media actors during the period evaluated. This quantitative indicator is then used to weight the qualitative analysis of the situation in the country based on the replies to the questionnaires.
Criteria categories and indicators
The questionnaire focuses on such criteria categories as the country’s performance as regards pluralism, media independence and respect for the safety and freedom of journalists. Each question in the questionnaire is linked to one of the six following indicators:
- Pluralism [indicator scorePlur]
Measures the degree to which opinions are represented in the media.
- Media independence [indicator scoreInd]
Measures the degree to which the media are able to function independently of sources of political, governmental, business and religious power and influence.
- Environment and self-censorship [indicator scoreEA]
Analyses the environment in which news and information providers operate.
- Legislative framework [indicator scoreCL]
Measures the impact of the legislative framework governing news and information activities.
- Transparency [indicator scoreTra]
Measures the transparency of the institutions and procedures that affect the production of news and information.
- Infrastructure [indicator scoreInf]
Measures the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.
- Abuses [indicateur scoreExa]
Measures the level of abuses and violence, based on data gathered about abuses and acts of violence against journalists and media during the period evaluated.
Each indicator is given a score between 0 and 100.
How the scores are calculated
Ever since the 2013 index, countries have been given scores ranging from 0 to 100, with 100 being the best possible score and 0 the worst. This makes the Index more informative and makes it easier to compare one year with another.
RSF calculates two scores. The first, ScoA, is based on the first six of the seven indicators listed above. The second, ScoB, combines the first six indicators with the seventh (abuses). A country’s final score is the greater of these two scores. This method prevents an inappropriately low score (high ranking) being given to a country where few or no acts of violence against journalists take place because the provision of news and information is tightly controlled.
How the two scores are calculated:
How the abuses score is calculated:
The longer that journalists (professional and non-professional) are imprisoned, the more their imprisonment penalizes the country concerned.
The weighting coefficient therefore has the following values, based on the length of imprisonment in years:
Press freedom map
The press freedom map offers a visual overview of the scores of all the countries in the index. The colour categories are assigned as follows:
- [85 ; 100 points] : Good situation (green)
- [75 ; 85 points[ : Satisfactory situation (yellow)
- [65 ; 75 points[ : Problematic situation (light orange)
- [45 ; 65 points[ : Difficult situation (dark orange)
- [0 ; 45 points[ : Very serious situation (dark red)