The press freedom situation in the Americas
Reporters Without Borders just released their annual Press Freedom Index [PDF], along with this map.
The annual global indicator can be broken down by region and, by means of weighting based on the population of each region, can be used to produce a score from zero to 100 in which zero represents total respect for media freedom.
This produces a score of 17.5 for Europe, 30.0 for the Americas, 34.3 for Africa, 42.2 for Asia-Pacific and 45.3 for the former Soviet republics. Despite the Arab springs, the Middle East and North Africa region comes last with 48.5.
Here are some of the key findings concerning our region:
- Jamaica and Costa Rica are the highest ranking countries from the Americas, just ahead of Canada, the western hemisphere’s traditional leader.
- On the other hand, Cuba is still at the bottom, next to the usual underachieving countries: Syria, Iran, China, Sudan, Yemen, and the like.
- Mexico is one of the biggest disappointments, largely due to the high number of journalists and netizens killed therein. That ratio is similar to that of Somalia, Syria, and Pakistan.
- Argentina fell amid growing tension between the government and certain privately-owned media about a new law regulating the broadcast media.
- Chile is beginning to recover after plummeting 33 places in last year’s index (student protests).
- A lack of pluralism, intermittent tension with the political authorities, harassment and self-censorship are the main reasons for the scant change in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Panama, where attacks on journalists tripled in the space of a year, local unions said.
- Brazil, South America’s economic engine, continued last year’s fall because five journalists were killed in 2012. Its media landscape is also badly distorted. Heavily dependent on the political authorities at the state level, the regional media are exposed to attacks, physical violence against their personnel, and court censorship orders, which also target the blogosphere.
- Paraguay fell eleven places in the rankings after its President’s removal in a parliamentary “coup” on 22 June 2012, which had a big impact on state-owned broadcasting along with a wave of arbitrary dismissals against a backdrop of unfair frequency allocation.
- In general, Uruguay, Portugal, Spain, El Salvador, Haiti, the United States and the Dominican Republic have been doing fairly good lately. In contrast, Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Honduras, delivered bad news this year (as expected).
Read on for the full regional analysis.
FJP: We at the Future Journalism Project have been reporting on these issues for the last few months, hence the popularity of press freedom as a frequent discussion topic in these pages. So, please go ahead and follow us on Twitter.
Image: Adjusted partial screenshot of Freedom of the Press 2013 Map, via Reporters Without Borders.