Worldwide press freedom in dire state for many, report finds

Posted on: May 3, 2023 by Claire Meadows

Media freedom remains in a dire and serious state in many countries, the latest index of worldwide press freedom has reported today.  

The 2023 World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and published today (3 May 2023) on #WorldPressFreedomDay found that an unprecedented 31 countries were deemed to be in a “very serious situation”, the lowest ranking in the report. Issues such as disinformation, propaganda and artificial intelligence continued to pose mounting threats to journalism, the report found as well as “increased aggressiveness” on the part of authorities in many countries and growing animosity towards journalists. 

Norway continues to be ranked first in the report for the seventh year running while Vietnam, China and North Korea remain at the bottom of the index. The UK fell two places from the 2022 Index from 24th to 26th place with worrying legislative proposals, the approval of Julian Assange’s extradition to the United States, and the treatment of journalists covering protests cited as reasons for its drop. The report also cited a lack of pluralism in the UK and a restrictive political climate impacting press freedom as well as the continued misuse of UK courts to pursue journalists as well as the proliferation of SLAPPs (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) which combined to boost London’s reputation as the defamation capital of the world.

Releasing today’s report, 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.”

The report also shone a spotlight on 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 unprecedented ability to tamper with content is being used to undermine those who embody quality journalism and weaken journalism itself, the report found. 

To search the report by country, click here

Image: RSF