RSF’s latest World Press Freedom Index highlights the danger of a tipping point in the state of media freedom in many countries. Media freedom has retreated wherever the authoritarian strongman model has triumphed. The obsession with surveillance and violations of the right to the confidentiality of sources have contributed to the continuing decline of many countries previously regarded as virtuous.
In sickening statements, draconian laws, conflicts of interest, and even the use of physical violence, democratic governments are trampling on a freedom that should, in principle, be one of their leading performance indicators. The decline is not new. It was already noticeable in previous Indexes. But what is striking in this year’s Index is the scale and the nature of the violations seen.
Media freedom is under threat now more than ever. A total of 21 countries are now colored black on the press freedom map because the situation there is classified as “very bad,” and 51 are colored red ; the situation in these countries is classified as “bad.” In all, the situation has worsened in nearly two thirds (62.2%) of the 180 countries in the Index. The 2017 World Press Freedom Index unveils woes and ills that are obstacles to media freedom throughout the world.