Romania has climbed five places in the Reporters Without Borders global press freedom index for 2013. The five place improvement takes Romania to 42 in the ranking, putting the country ahead of neighboring Hungary, which fell 16 places from last year to number 56. Despite the improvement, Romania is still classed among the countries with noticeable problems.
Scandinavia and The Netherlands continue to rule the roost for press freedom around the world, with some slight changes in position. The year, Finland ranks first, Norway has slipped two places to third and The Netherlands climbed a place to second. Denmark rose four places to sixth and Sweden made it into tenth position from twelfth last year. Iceland slipped three places to ninth. Three of Europe’s miniature states were also in the top ten – Luxembourg (4 ), Andorra (5 ) and Lichtenstein (7 ). The only non-European country in the top ten was New Zealand in eighth place.
Although the rankings suggest that Europe is a beacon of press freedom in a world darkened by repression of free speech, Reporters Without Borders identifies concerns with the European media environment. The ranking of 16 EU countries in the top 30 concealed “the slow erosion of the European model as a result of inconsistencies and worrying developments among the other 11 countries, some of which fell below 80th place,” according to Reporters Without Borders.
Romania could be considered the regions press freedom star, although perhaps on the grounds of deficiencies in neighboring countries rather than the achievements of the Romanian media environment. Bulgaria dropped seven places to number 87 and Greece fell 14 places to 84th spot. Croatia (64 ) and Serbia (63 ) have both improved but journalists still face serious obstacles. Meanwhile Albania (102 ), Montenegro (113 ), and Macedonia (116 ) all fell in the ranking and exhibit problems that characterize the Balkan region, according to Reporters Without Borders. “Judicial harassment based on often inappropriate legislation, the lack of access to public data, physical and psychological violence against those who work in news and information, official and private advertising markets used as a tool, the gray economy’s hold over vital parts of the media. All are obstacles to the right to report the news and people’s right to know it.”
Democracy, as usual, beats dictatorship for press freedom and tyrannical regimes again occupy the very lowest places in the press freedom ranking. Turkmenistan (177 ), North Korea (178 ) and Eritrea (179 ) are the bottom three countries in this year’s press freedom index.
See the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index 2013.
Liam Lever, email@example.com
photo source: rsf.org