- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Nearly two-thirds of countries worldwide have measured deterioration in press freedom, according to the 2017 World Press Freedom Index released Wednesday.

The World Press Freedom index has been compiled annually since 2002 by Reporters without Borders, an international nonprofit that advocates for freedom of information and the press.

This year’s finding highlight a “tipping point,” in countries with “model democracies,” where media freedoms were once protected, are now under erosion, the report says.

“The decline in respect for media freedom and democracy is not new,” Delphine Halgand, the North America director for Reporters Without Borders, said at a presentation of the report at The Washington Post on Wednesday. “But what is striking this year is the scale and the nature of violations.”

Among democracies, the United States has dropped two places to 43, Canada has dropped four places to 22, Poland is down seven places at 54, and New Zealand dropped eight places to 13.

“The rate at which democracies are approaching the tipping point is alarming,” Ms. Halgand continued. “If media freedom is not secure, then none of the other freedoms are guaranteed. Media freedom has retreated wherever an authoritarian regime has triumphed. I’m thinking of Poland, Hungary, Turkey, Russia, and so on. Media freedom has never been so threatened.”

Finland has abdicated its position as the No. 1 for press freedom, replaced by Norway, because of political pressures and conflicts of interest, the report states.

Laws in Germany (16) and Canada (22) expanding surveillance powers is worrying, and Ms. Halgand mentioned that the reason Canada fell 10 places is because of the targeting of media by police to identify their sources.

There are 21 countries that are on a “black list” for little to no press freedom. They include countries in the Middle East, countries in Africa, China, and Russia.

Countries in a “downward spiral,” the report highlights, include Iran, Saudia Arabia, Syria — the world’s deadliest country for journalists — Yemen, Libya, and Turkey.

In Mexico, at least 10 journalists were killed last year, the report said.

The “bottom of the black zone” are the three countries with the worst press freedom. Turkmenistan (178), Eritrea (179), and North Korea (180).

The “bottom of the black zone” are the three countries with the worst press freedom.

Since 2005, the World Press Freedom Index has monitored these three countries and said they have “consistently suppressed and crushed all divergence from the state propaganda.”

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