Map of the Day: Where The Press Isn’t Free

Today’s map comes from the 2014 World Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders  Click on the image for a larger view.

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Here’s what Reporters without Borders says about the index

The 2014 World Press Freedom Index spotlights the negative impact of conflicts on freedom of information and its protagonists. The ranking of some countries has also been affected by a tendency to interpret national security needs in an overly broad and abusive manner to the detriment of the right to inform and be informed. This trend constitutes a growing threat worldwide and is even endangering freedom of information in countries regarded as democracies. Finland tops the index for the fourth year running, closely followed by Netherlands and Norway, like last year. At the other end of the index, the last three positions are again held by Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea, three countries where freedom of information is non-existent. Despite occasional turbulence in the past year, these countries continue to be news and information black holes and living hells for the journalists who inhabit them. This year’s index covers 180 countries, one more than last year. The new entry, Belize, has been assigned an enviable position (29th). Cases of violence against journalists are rare in Belize but there were some problems: defamation suits involving demands for large amounts in damages, national security restrictions on implementation of the Freedom of Information Act and sometimes unfair management of broadcast frequencies.

Other significant findings from the index: Syria is by far the most dangerous place in the world to practice journalism. Also, the USA is not in the same league as Canada or the Nordic countries because of certain issues pertaining to whistleblower protections and leaks. The

Press freedom is important in its own right. It keeps governments in check, helps root out corruption and expose (and prevent) human rights abuses.  A few years ago, UNESCO (which is the only UN body with a mandate to protect and promote press freedom) also found a relationship between press freedom and economic and social development. Per a 2008 study 

According to the authors’ conclusions, the analysis suggests that “there is a ‘good’ correlation between press freedom and the different dimensions of development, poverty and governance”. Along with other indicators of good governance, press freedom creates the environment favourable for sustainable development.”

Freedom of the Press: It’s good for governance, good for development and a fundamental precept for a healthy society. Let’s have more!