Saturday, December 9

Disinformation and political control hit press freedom

  • The informative practice is blocked in 132 countries out of a total of 180, according to the classification of Reporters Without Borders

  • RSF warns of the extreme precariousness of journalists in Spain and media polarization

The freedom of the press face a complicated situationat a time when the globalized and unregulated digital space favors false information and propaganda. At the same time, authoritarian regimes bet on control the media of communication, while in democratic societies the number of media that passes the opinion for information causing distrust of the society.

This is shown by the World Press Freedom Index of 2022, carried out by Reporters Without Borders (RSF)which alerts the media polarization -which creates fractures within countries- and that of state, which forms gaps on an international scale. On this occasion, there has been a change of methodology and the list gives a vision of freedom of the press in different areas: political context, legal framework, economic context, sociocultural context and security.

In this edition, there 48 countries -out of a total of 180- in which freedom of the press is a positive position, the same number as in the previous classification. However, the number of territories with a “good” on the freedom of the press -there is Eightfor the twelve of 2021- and those who have a “rather good” situation40 this year, for the 35 of the past.

Along the same lines, the places where freedom of the press has a situation “very serious” have marked a recordwith 28 countrieswhen in 2021 there were 20. For their part, those who are in “difficult situation” have gone down to 42 -before 52- and those who are in “problematic situation” have increased slightly, with 62 territories for the 59 of the previous year.

The economic context makes Spain fall

In the 2022 ranking, Spain he has dropped three placesstanding in the 32 -situation “rather good”-, although the organization points out that this decrease is due to the new methodology, which includes indicators such as the legal, socio-cultural or economic framework, when previously the analysis of the political situation and the safety of journalists prevailed.

Specifically, Spain failure in the economic context of the media, for excessive market concentrationthe difficulties in creating a medium, the lack of support to promote new publications and the extreme precariousness of the journalists. In addition, RSF warns of the media polarization of some news media, which resemble opinion media.

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On the other hand, assaults media professionals have been reduced and are processing possible repeal of the crimes of expression – insults to the Crown, religious sentiments or advocacy of terrorism – and some provisions of the Gag Law. In addition, despite the lack of transparency shown by the central and regional governments with public information about the pandemic and despite the climate of hatred towards the press generated in 2021 essentially by VOX, the political context has not affected to freedom of the press.

Nordic countries in the lead

For their part, the Nordic countries follow heading the classification of Freedom of the Press, with Norway remaining in first position, followed by Denmark Y Sweden. This year, they have entered the top 10 countries that were Soviet republics, such as Estonia (4th) -which has risen eleven places- and Lithuania (9th) –has advanced 19 positions-. For its part, Greece (108th) has fallen 38 places and relieves Bulgaria (91st) at the queue of europe.

Despite the fact that, like Spain, they are in a “rather good” situation, the violence of the demonstrations against the measures by the covid has increased the physical assaults to journalists in Germany (16th), France (26th), Italy (58th) and Netherlands (28th).

In contrast, the number of countries in “very serious” situation has reached numbers recordwith a total of 28 territories in this context. North Korea closes the ranking, preceded by Eritrea (179). For its part, the second world power is also at the bottom of the list –Chinese (175th)– and expands its information counter-model inside and outside the country. In fact, the semi-autonomous region of Hong Kongwhich has come under the control of Beijing, is the one that more collapses in the RSF ranking in 2022 (148thhas dropped 68 places).

the ukrainian war

In section “very serious” also stands Russia (155th) and in its war with Ukraine (106th, in a “problematic” situation) it has undermined press freedom in the region, since during the war, at least seven media professionals have been killed. In addition, the Russian Government has assumed the full control of informationeven imposing its vision of the war on neighboring countries, such as Belarus (153rd).

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On the other hand, the response of the European Union to the war in Ukraine does not help press freedom, as they have banned from the media that spread russian propaganda without an adequate legal framework, which could serve as a pretext for Russia to impose similar measures of punishment to European media. However, the European institutions have begun to apply measures to protect journalists and freedom of the press.

Stigmatizing political speeches

In Latin Americathe coronavirus crisis has continued to accelerate the censorship and has hindered access to information on the management of the pandemic. Besides, the distrust towards the press continues to rise, due to the stigmatizing speeches of some politicians, mainly in Brazil (111th place of the Classification), Cuban (173rd), Venezuela (148th), Nicaraguan (160º) Y El Salvador (112th). The biggest fall in the region is suffered by Nicaragua (160º), at lose 39 positionswhich makes him enter the “very serious” situation.

In The Saviorwhich has dropped 30 places, the situation of freedom of the press is also worrying, because after the coming to power of Nayib Bukele they have multiplied attacks and threats against the critical journalists with his administration, creating the image of a press enemy of the people, which has been accompanied by changes in the legal framework to make the work of the press more complex.

For its part, Mexico (127th) remains in a “difficult” situation and remains the deadliest country in the world for journalists, with at least seven journalists killed in 2021 -the same as in four months of 2022-. This makes it position 179 out of 180 on the security indicator.

The mainland exception is Costa Ricalocated in the position 8, far ahead of the giant USAwhich is located in the 42. The improvements that have occurred with the Biden Administration have only allowed him to recover two positions, since recurring problems remain unresolved, such as the disappearance of local newspapers and the Polarization media. For its part, Canada (19th) has lost five places, after the journalists were the object of hostilities and access bans when covering the ‘Freedom Convoy’.

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Concern in Africa and the Middle East

As for the North of AfricaRSF warns that the situation is worryingSpecially in Algeria (134th)where freedom of the press is regressing alarmingly and the imprisonment of journalists is the order of the day; Morocco (135th)which keeps three prominent figures in journalism imprisoned and Libya (143rd) Y Sudan (151st), where observers report that a free press no longer exists. Along the same lines, in middle East the situation has not improved either, with several murders of journalistslike in Lebanon (130th), Yemen (169th) either Iran (178th).

In sub-saharan africa diversity is observed, since they coexist abundance of the press from Senegalese (73rd) either South Africa (35th) and the silence of the private media Eritrea (179th) either Djibouti (164th). The practices of censorship arbitrary are still very common, especially on the Internet, with cuts casual of the net in some countries, arrests of journalists and violent attacks.

In it sahelinsecurity and political instability have intensified and journalism is suffering unprecedented attacks. In 2021, Spanish reporters David Beriain and Roberto Fraile were murdered in Burkina Faso (41st), the French reporter Oliver Dubois It was kidnapped by an armed group in Mali (111th) and several journalists were expelled from Benin (121st), Mali and Burkina Faso.

Press freedom worsens

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In short, information professionals find themselves in a complicated context in 132 countries of the world, where freedom of the press is totally or partially in danger. In addition, it has worsened compared to the previous year, since the territories with a more serious situation than in 2021 have increased.

In this context, both autocratic regimes -what manage the mediaand communication to control the opinion of the population – such as democratic societies -with more opinion media that propagate false information and the rise of social tensions fueled by the coronavirus pandemic – contribute to the increase in fractures in society and open one gap increasingly wide for freedom of the press.

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