World Press Freedom Day 2018: risks increase for journalists 

 
 
A portrait of murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruna Galizia (L) and of Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová. 

Animosity towards journalists is growing, including in Europe, according to the World Press Freedom Index put together by Reporters without Borders.

The index was published a few days ahead of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, an annual UN day to raise awareness of the importance of media freedom. The report also pointed out that  more and more democratically-elected political leaders are minimising the role of the media in democratic society and see journalists as opponents.

 

Europe is considered as the region where press freedom is the safest, but four of the biggest drops in this year's index are European countries. In the case of Malta and Slovakia this is linked to journalists being murdered:  Malta (down 18 at 65th), Czech Republic (down 11 at 34th), Serbia (down 10 at 76th) and Slovakia (down 10 at 27th).

 

On the other hand, three of the four best-ranking countries for media freedom worldwide are EU countries: Sweden, the Netherlands and Finland.

 

World Press Freedom Index: ranking 2018*

 

TOP 5

Ranking in 2017

Ranking in 2018

Norway

1

1

Sweden

2

2

Netherlands

5

3

Finland

3

4

Switzerland

7

5

 

The index shows the influence of strong leaders such as Putin in Russia (148) and Xi Jinping in China (176), who curtail independent voices and control news and information.

 

War also has an influence on press freedom. This year, Iraq (down two at 160) joined the “very bad” part of the index. With 22, this is the largest number of countries seen in this category to date. 

 

Breakdown of countries by press freedom*

 

Good

9%

Fairly good

17%

Problematic

35%

Bad

27%

Very bad

12%

 

Protecting journalists

 

In the space of five months, Europe mourned the death of two investigative journalists. Daphne Caruana Galizia, a Maltese journalist killed in a car bomb last October, and Slovak journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée Martina Kušnírová, murdered in February, making it clear that the EU cannot take press freedom for granted.

 

Murdered and imprisoned journalists*

 

2018

were killed

are currently imprisoned

12 journalists

4            citizens journalists

2           media assistants

177 journalists

126           citizens journalists

15           media assistants

 

Parliament resolution

 

MEPs adopted a non-legislative resolution drafted by Italian GUE/NGL member Barbara Spinelli on 3 May, calling for measures to safeguard media pluralism and media freedom.

 

Among the proposals proposed are the creation of an independent regulatory body, working alongside journalist organisations, to monitor and report violence and threats.

 

* Source: Reporters Without Borders

The European Parliament press room in Strasbourg has been named in honour of Daphne Caruna Galizia