Freedom of the Press: Facts and Figures
Freedom House yesterday released its annual Freedom of the Press report. The findings paint a grim picture of the state of global media freedom, with just 14 percent of the world’s population enjoying a vibrant press with diverse views and minimal state intrusion.
Below are a selection of facts and figures drawn from the report’s findings:
- Percentage of countries rated Free for 2013: 32
Percentage of countries rated Free for 2002: 40.4
- Percent of world’s population living in societies with Free media in 2013: 14
- Percent of world’s population living in societies with Not Free media in 2013: 44
- China’s share of those living in Not Free media environments: 43 percent
- China’s global ranking: 183 (Not Free) out of 197
- Taiwan’s global ranking: 47 (Free) out of 197
- Three highest-ranking countries: Netherlands, Norway, Sweden
- Three poorest-ranking countries: North Korea, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
- Number of regions with declines in average score for 2013: 5 of 6 (sub-Saharan Africa remained the same)
- Percent of population in Eurasia living in Not Free media environments: 97
- Only countries in Eurasia rated as even Partly Free: Georgia, Moldova
- Number of Middle Eastern countries rated Free: 1 (Israel)
- Number of Middle Eastern countries rated Partly Free: 4 (Algeria, Kuwait, Lebanon, Tunisia)
- Number of Middle Eastern countries with score improvements since the Arab Spring: 5
- Number of Middle Eastern countries with score declines since the Arab Spring: 8
- Number of pre-2004 EU members ranked as only Partly Free: 2 (Greece, Italy)
- Lowest-scoring EU members: Hungary, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece
- Number of countries in the Americas with Not Free media environments: 5 (Cuba, Venezuela, Honduras, Ecuador, Mexico)
- Number of countries with significant (3+ points on 100-point scale) score improvements for 2013: 11
- Number of countries with significant score declines for 2013: 15
- Number of countries with score improvements for 2013: 44
- Number of countries with score declines for 2013: 82
- Number of countries with significant score improvements between 2009 and 2013: 34
Number of countries with significant score declines between 2009 and 2013: 55
- Cost of a visa for journalists attempting to enter the Pacific Island of Nauru: $8,000
Analyses and recommendations offered by the authors do not necessarily reflect those of Freedom House.
In recent commentaries on the bleak state of global freedom, analysts have used a series of labels to describe the trajectory of democracy: “stagnation,” “erosion,” “recession,” and even “decline” for those who view the trends with alarm.
One label that has not been applied to current conditions is “reversal.”
The findings for Freedom in the World 2013, which were released this week, reflect a complex picture for the state of global freedom. On one hand, the number of countries ranked in the Free category increased to 90, an impressive share of the world’s 195 sovereign states. At the same time, more countries, 27, suffered significant setbacks in their freedom indicators than showed notable gains, 16, marking the seventh consecutive year in which declines outnumbered improvements.
For much of the past decade, global press freedom has been in retreat. This may seem counterintuitive in an era marked by the constant development and refinement of new communication technologies. Yet even as the internet, blogs, microblogs, mobile-telephone videos, and other forms of new media are reshaping the information landscape, governments are finding new and more sophisticated ways to control news coverage and manipulate political discourse.