The UK has been ranked in 35th place in the 2020 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
The fall from the 33rd place last year is reported to be due to threats made to reporters in Northern Ireland, including the murder of journalist Lyra McKee in April of last year. The ranking also reflects the occasion where investigative reporters in Northern Ireland had their homes raided by police under wrongly-obtained search warrants.
The RSF has said that the coming decade will be ‘decisive for the future of journalism’ as the Covid-19 pandemic amplifies ‘many crises that threaten the right to freely reported’ information.
The Index takes into account the conditions for journalists in 180 countries across the world – including media independence, legal framework, transparency and the level of pluralism. The organisation has said there is a ‘clear correlation’ between freedom of expression regarding the Covid-19 media coverage in a country and its ranking in the RSF Index.
Hungary at 89th in the ranking, has passed a coronavirus law with five years in prison to penalise false information spreading.
“We are entering a decisive decade for journalism linked to crises that affect its future,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.
“The coronavirus pandemic illustrates the negative factors threatening the right to reliable information, and is itself an exacerbating factor. What will freedom of information, pluralism and reliability look like in 2030? The answer to that question is being determined today.
RSF UK director, Rebecca Vincent, told the Guardian today: “We were shocked by some of the reports we received from journalists in Belfast and Derry, who are clearly among the most at-risk reporters in the UK.
“As we remember and honour Lyra McKee, we must also act to protect those who continue to take great risks to report information in the public interest. These issues must be addressed by the UK authorities as a matter of urgent priority to prevent further acts of violence.”
Norway has topped the Index for the fourth year running.
For a full analysis visit the RSF Index here.