wnol.info June 23 2018

Finland drops again in Press Freedom Index rankings

June 23 2018, 04:49 | Irvin Gilbert

UK holds at 40th in World Press Freedom rankings but campaign group says it's 'nothing to be proud of'

India ranks 138 in World Press Freedom Index, slips two places since 2017

"The U.S.' decline in press freedom is not simply bad news for journalists working inside the country; the downward trend has drastic consequences at the global level".

In the ranking, Reporters Without Borders warned that growing animosity towards journalists across the world was being encouraged by both authoritarian and democratically elected political leaders. "Censorship and surveillance reached unprecedented levels thanks to the massive use of new technology" in his first term in office, the report said.

"The government (of India) generally respected these rights, although there were instances in which the government allegedly pressured or harassed media outlets critical of the government", US State Department said in its annual Human Rights Report for the year 2017.

"Political leaders who fuel loathing for reporters bear heavy responsibility because they undermine the concept of public debate based on facts instead of propaganda".

"The unleashing of hatred towards journalists is one of the worst threats to democracies", secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. "To dispute the legitimacy of journalism today is to play with extremely unsafe political fire", added Deloire.

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In February 2017, Trump said the US media was "the enemy of the American people". But these countries have not been immune to the overall declining trend in press freedom either, and Finland has fallen in the ranking for the second time, the report said.

Meanwhile, in Asia, the influence of China's "oppressive methods, information censorship system and internet surveillance tools" could be seen in a number of other countries in the region.

"When it's not despots, it's war that helps turn countries into news and information black holes - countries such as Iraq (down two at 160th), which this year joined those at the very bottom of the index where the situation is classified as 'very bad.' There have never been so many countries that are colored black on the press freedom map", it added. The U.S. ranked 45th, while Russian Federation came in 148th place.

Four out of five of the index's biggest falls in press freedom took place in European countries: Malta (down 18 at 65th), Czech Republic (down 11 at 34th), Serbia (down 10 at 76th) and Slovakia (down 10 at 27th).

The departure of the three African countries' "predatory presidents" was the main reason for their improved performance, the RSF said.

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