May 3, 2023
The 21st edition of the World Press Freedom Index is released today by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). The Index sheds light on major and often radical changes linked to political, social and technological upheavals.
According to the 2023 World Press Freedom Index, which evaluates the environment for journalism in 180 countries and territories and is published on World Press Freedom Day (3 May), the situation is “very bad” in 31 countries, “bad” in 42, “problematic” in 55, and “good” or “fairly good” in 52 countries.
Environment for journalism “bad” in seven out of ten countries
In other words, the environment for journalism is “bad” in seven out of ten countries, and satisfactory in only three out of ten.
Norway is ranked first for the seventh year running. But – unusually – a non-Nordic country is ranked second, namely Ireland (up 4 places at 2nd), ahead of Denmark (down 1 place at 3rd). The Netherlands (6th) has risen 22 places, recovering the position it had in 2021, before crime reporter Peter R. de Vries was murdered.
There are changes at the bottom of the Index, too. The last three places are occupied solely by Asian countries: Vietnam (178th), which has almost completed its hunt of independent reporters and commentators; China (down 4 at 179th), the world’s biggest jailer of journalists and one of the biggest exporters of propaganda content; and, to no great surprise, North Korea (180th).
Enormous volatility and instability
Christophe Deloire RSF Secretary-General, said: “The World Press Freedom Index shows enormous volatility in situations, with major rises and falls and unprecedented changes, such as Brazil’s 18-place rise and Senegal’s 31-place fall. This instability is the result of increased aggressiveness on the part of the authorities in many countries and growing animosity towards journalists on social media and in the physical world. The volatility is also the consequence of growth in the fake content industry, which produces and distributes disinformation and provides the tools for manufacturing it.”
Effects of the fake content industry
The 2023 Index spotlights the rapid effects that the digital ecosystem’s fake content industry has had on press freedom. In 118 countries (two-thirds of the 180 countries evaluated by the Index), most of the Index questionnaire’s respondents reported that political actors in their countries were often or systematically involved in massive disinformation or propaganda campaigns.
The difference is being blurred between true and false, real and artificial, facts and artifices, jeopardising the right to information. The unprecedented ability to tamper with content is being used to undermine those who embody quality journalism and weaken journalism itself.
The role of the World Media Group is to champion the values of trusted international journalism and we’re proud to support RSF and the important work it does to protect the freedom of the press around the world. Today on Press Freedom Day, we wish to support WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich, who was wrongfully detained by Russia. We stand with Evan and his family in demanding his immediate release.
You can read RSF’s 2023 World Press Freedom Index in full here.