Israel ranks 91 in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index

"Democracies and dictatorships alike are rapidly approaching a worrying turning point," warned Christophe Deloire, the director of Reporters Without Borders. The organization publishes the World Press Freedom Index every year. Israel's ranking has improved but the country still has work to do.
'Worrying' relationship between politics and the media Photo credit: Nils Petersen, 123FR/ Channel 2 News

A new study by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published today (Wednesday) on the state of freedom of the press in the world paints a grim picture. “The rate at which democracies are approaching the tipping point is alarming for all those who understand that, if media freedom is not secure, then none of the other freedoms can be guaranteed,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire warned.

Every year, RSF publishes a comprehensive survey of the freedom of the media and the press around the world. The organization operates from Paris and holds the status of an advisory body to the UN. The highlight of the annual study is the Freedom of the Press Index, which ranks 180 countries according to the degree of journalistic freedom in each country.

One of the main conclusions of the study is that in both democratic countries and dictatorships, the status of the press is falling. "Democracies began falling in the Index in preceding years and now, more than ever, nothing seems to be checking that fall," wrote the RSF.

According to the study, senior level politicians in more and more countries are beginning to use and abuse their power to influence the headlines in news outlets. Even in countries perceived as leaders in freedom of the press. For example, in Finland (in third place), it turns out that Prime Minister Juha Sipilä has contacted media editors dozens of times and attacked them for negative publications against him- a tactic that eventually worked.

RSF is an advisory body to the UN Photo credit: Reuters/ Channel 2 News

Of the 180 countries ranked, Israel climbed 10 places since last year and now ranks 91- behind Peru (90) and much after Argentina (50), Romania (46) and South Africa (31). The researchers with RSF also pointed to the deterioration of countries like New Zealand (13), in which legislation was passed that expanded the power of intelligence agencies to block certain publications. In Canada (22) and in Great Britain (40), the governments apparently tracked journalists in order to find a mole in the police. In the United States (43), the authorities detained journalists who covered demonstrations.

The country at the top of the list is Norway (1), where freedom of the press is considered to be true and without restrictions. At the other end of the spectrum, North Korea took last place and thus replaced Eritrea, which had maintained its last-place status for the past decade.

Finally, the report concluded that the Middle East and North Africa are still considered the most dangerous places in the world for journalists.

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