Freedom of the Press 2004 | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Freedom of the Press 2004

According to Freedom of the Press 2004, press freedom worldwide suffered a substantial decline in 2003 as journalists and media outlets faced renewed legal harassment, political pressure, and violence at the hands of both police and security forces and armed insurgent groups. This was the second year in a row that the global level of freedom for news media declined, with the downward trend being particularly noticeable in the Americas and in Central and Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union. Of particular concern is the fact that threats to press freedom are occurring not only in authoritarian states but also in faltering democracies and countries in transition. In 2003, even a long-standing democracy such as Italy witnessed a decline in media independence, demonstrating that threats to press freedom are widespread and can emerge in a diverse range of polities.

In 2003, out of the 192 countries and 1 territory surveyed, 73 countries (38 percent) were rated Free, while 49 (25 percent) were rated Partly Free and 71 (37 percent) were rated Not Free. The year saw a continued deterioration in press freedom worldwide, as measured by a shift in category. Overall, 5 countries (Bolivia, Bulgaria, Cape Verde, Italy, and the Philippines) declined from Free to Partly Free, while 5 countries (Gabon, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Moldova, and Morocco) declined from Partly Free to Not Free. Only 2 countries-Kenya and Sierra Leone-registered a positive category shift in 2003 from Not Free to Partly Free.

In terms of population, 17 percent of the world's inhabitants live in countries that enjoy a Free press, while 40 percent have a Partly Free press and 43 percent have a Not Free press. This situation represents a considerable decline over the past two years, as the proportion of the world's population able to enjoy access to a Free press has declined by 5 percentage points while the percentage of people who live in countries with a Not Free media environment has also increased by 5 percentage points.

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Freedom of the Press 2004 Release Materials:

Note: Reports with asterisks in the following list are for territories rather than countries.





Middle East and North Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa