2023 press freedom situation is “very serious” in 31 countries, “difficult” in 42, “problematic” in 55, and “good” or “satisfactory” in 52
This year’s World Press Freedom Index (WPFI), published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on World Press Freedom Day (May 3), indicates that the governments are cracking down on freedom of the press in more countries than ever before.
The 2023 report, published annually by RSF, analyzed the level of legal and physical threats to journalists in 180 states, rating the situation in 31 countries as “very serious” – up from 28 last year.
According to RSF, this year’s press freedom situation is “very serious” in 31 countries, “difficult” in 42, “problematic” in 55, and “good” or “satisfactory” in 52 countries.
Press freedom could be classified as “good” only in eight countries – the number unchanged since last year.
Norway was ranked as the number one press freedom country in the world in the 2023 index for the seventh year in a row.
It was followed by Ireland and Denmark in second and third places.
The Netherlands (6th) has risen 22 places, recovering the position it had in 2021.
Nine of the top ten 2023 World Press Freedom Index countries are European Union member states.
But even the countries in the report’s Top Ten received some doze of criticism.
For example, Estonia was placed eighth on the list, but was nonetheless criticized for the online “cyberbullying of journalists.”
Meanwhile, the United States dropped down from 42nd place to 45th place in this year’s report. Canada took 15th place, while the UK was 26th.
The notable non-Western countries – Russia, China, and India – all placed below 160th, as did Iran and much of the Middle East and Asia.
The bottom three places in the Index are occupied solely by Asian countries: Vietnam (178th), which has almost completed its hunt of independent reporters and commentators; China (down 4 at 179th), the world’s biggest jailer of journalists and one of the biggest exporters of propaganda content; and, to no great surprise, North Korea (180th).
Reporters Without Borders placed Russia in 164th place out of 180, for censoring stories about its ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine, the war crimes allegedly committed by Russian military and mercenaries recruited from Russian prison camps and for clamping down on foreign media outlets.
Meanwhile, Ukraine was elevated from 106th place last year to 79th this year – higher than Greece and Serbia and five places behind Hungary, with Reporters Without Borders describing the country as “the front line of resistance against the expansion of the Kremlin’s propaganda system.”
“The World Press Freedom Index shows enormous volatility in situations, with major rises and falls and unprecedented changes, such as Brazil’s 18-place rise and Senegal’s 31-place fall. This instability is the result of increased aggressiveness on the part of the authorities in many countries and growing animosity towards journalists on social media and in the physical world. The volatility is also the consequence of growth in the fake content industry, which produces and distributes disinformation and provides the tools for manufacturing it,” said Christophe Deloire, RSF Secretary-General.