Record 28 countries rated as ‘very bad places’ for journalists

Record 28 countries rated as ‘very bad places’ for journalists

A record 28 countries are rated very bad places for journalism in the World Press Freedom Index, which warns that autocratic regimes are increasingly willing to crack down on independent media outlets.

Billions of people in countries such as China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan struggle to access journalism produced without intervention from politicians, with reporters in these places often facing threats to their wellbeing.

The annual press freedom list, produced by the campaign group Reporters Without Borders, tracks the state of the media in 180 countries and territories. It blames the globalised and unregulated online information space that encourages fake news and propaganda for the worsening situation in many countries.

One of the biggest fallsers on the list is Myanmar, where dozens of journalists have been in jail since the military coup last year. Press freedom in the country had been set back by 10 years, according to Reporters Without Borders.

Rebecca Vincent, the organisation's campaign chief, said there were concerns that the UK ranked as the UK ranked a relatively healthy 24th on the list. The government attempts to install a political ally as chairman of the media watchdog Ofcom and the ongoing extradition process involving the founder of WikiLeaks in Northern Ireland are some of the key issues that include the killing of Lyra McKee, as well as ongoing threats to journalists in Northern Ireland.

She said that the UK government is enabling the US government to pursue this case against him because of the Assange case. It is becoming increasingly difficult for journalists of all stripes to access information from this government. Vincent said that the poor press freedom left citizens uninformed and less able to hold their governments to account. She warned that authoritarian attitudes towards the media could often spill over into other countries, and that the war in Ukraine is an example of a premeditated information war that has turned into a conflict that threatens global security. Europe is split into two in the rankings, with Nordic countries such as Norway, Denmark and Sweden again topping the list and receiving praise for following a democratic model where freedom of expression flourishes. The situation in eastern Europe is much worse, with Poland, Hungary and Albania scoring badly in the rankings. The country with the lowest ranking for press freedom is Greece, which slips to 108th in the ranking after the crime journalist Giorgos Karaivaz was shot down on a street in Athens.

The annual ranking has been put together for the last 20 years and is created by assessing direct threats against journalists around the world and combining it with the results of a survey of hundreds of journalists, academics and human rights activists.

Among the worst performers is Hong Kong, which has dropped to 148th after the introduction of a national security law that targets journalists critical of the Chinese government.

Russia received one of the lowest rankings after the Kremlin established complete control of news and information by establishing extensive wartime censorship, blocking the media and pursuing non-compliant journalists, forcing many of them into exile.