Releasing its annual rankings on Wednesday, advocacy group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) noted that world press freedom had deteriorated worldwide in 2015, particularly in the Americas, and warned of “a new era of propaganda.” Estonia placed 14th, down from 10th place a year prior.
The World Press Freedom Index ranks 180 countries on indicators such as media independence, self-censorship, the rule of law, transparency, as well as abuses.
The index’s top five countries for press freedom consisted of Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, and New Zealand, while the lowest-ranked countries included China, Syria, North Korea, and Eritrea.
This year, Estonia placed 14th, a four-spot drop from its 2015 10th place ranking.
According to the report, “Estonia has been among the top ten in RSF’s press freedom index for several years, but it is easy to bring defamation lawsuits and journalists have not been spared. Legislative amendments adopted in 2010 made it possible for judges to jail reporters who refuse to reveal their sources for stories about serious crimes.”
This year’s index saw a decline across all parts of the world, with Latin America of particular concern, RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire told AFP.
“All of the indicators show a deterioration,” he said. “Numerous authorities are trying to regain control of their countries, fearing overly open public debate.”
Deloire added that “Today, it is increasingly easy for powers to appeal directly to the public though new technologies, and so there is a greater degree of violence against those who represent independent information."
The secretary general continued, "We are entering a new era of propaganda, where new technologies allow the low-cost dissemination of their own communication, their information, as dictated. On the other side, journalists are the ones who get in the way.”
According to the report, the situation was particularly grave in Latin America. Highlighted by the RSF report as the main obstacles to press freedom were “institutional violence” in Venezuela and Ecuador, organized crime in honduras, impunity in Colombia, corruption in Brazil, and media concentration in Argentina.
Reporters Without Borders is a Paris-based international nonprofit NGO that promotes and defends freedom of information as well as the freedom of the press. The NGO has consultant status at the UN.
Editor: Editor: Aili Sarapik