Data Show

2020 World Press Freedom Index : A decisive decade for the future of journalism

According to RSF’s measures, world press freedom improved very slightly in 2019. However, the Covid-19 pandemic highlights and amplifies the multiple crises that threaten the right to free, independent, pluralistic and reliable information.

Morgane Bougouin
Morgane Bougouin

Aug 11, 2020 - 6 minutes read

About the index score

The Press Freedom Index is a ranking of 180 countries published yearly by Reporters Without Borders on the basis of countries’ press freedom results according to the organization’s own assessment. This ranking attempts to reflect the degree of freedom that journalists, media, and netizens have in each country, and the efforts made by the authorities to respect this freedom.

The World Press Freedom Index is composed of a number of indicators, which are :

  • Pluralism : Measures the degree to which opinions are represented in the media.
  • Media independence : Measures the degree to which the media are able to function independently of sources of political, governmental, business and religious power and influence.
  • Environment and self-censorship : Analyses the environment in which news and information providers operate.
  • Legislative framework : Measures the impact of the legislative framework governing news and information activities.
  • Transparency : Measures the transparency of the institutions and procedures that affect the production of news and information.
  • Infrastructure : Measures the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.
  • Abuses : A seventh indicator based on data gathered about abuses and acts of violence against journalists and media during the period evaluated is also factored into the calculation.

The final score is defined on a scale from 0 to 100. The higher the score of a country, the more worrying the situation for that country. The press freedom map presents a visual summary of the performance of 180 countries in the World Ranking.

World Press Freedom Index - Global Map
World Press Freedom Index 2020

The Index region by region

Europe

World Press Freedom Index - Europe Map
Press Freedom Index 2020 in Europe

Top and bottom of the Press Freedom Index ranking in Europe :

Ranking Country RSF Score 2020
1 Norway 7.84
2 Finland 7.93
3 Denmark 8.13
111 Bulgaria 35.06
149 Russia 48.92
153 Belarus 49.75

Europe remains the continent the most in favor of press freedom, despite the repressive policies of certain countries. Although several states are among those which respect press freedom the best, the EU is increasingly heterogeneous, undermined by the successive economic crises, the fight against terrorism, but also by states sliding more and more towards a more authoritarian regime.

North America

World Press Freedom Index - North America Map
Press Freedom Index 2020 in North America

Top and bottom of the Press Freedom Index ranking in North and Central America :

Ranking Country RSF Score 2020
6 Jamaica 10.51
7 Costa Rica 10.53
16 Canada 15.29
143 Mexico 45.45
148 Honduras 48.20
171 Cuba 63.81

In North America, though nations have historically respected the press, journalists in these countries are being challenged by the very institutions on which they report. Journalists and the media regularly face verbal and physical threats, denied access to information, as laws and lawsuits restricting their rights multiply.

South America

World Press Freedom Index - South America Map
Press Freedom Index 2020 in South America

Top and bottom of the Press Freedom Index ranking in South America :

Ranking Country RSF Score 2020
19 Uruguay 15.79
20 Surinam 17.50
49 Guyana 26.63
114 Bolivia 35.37
130 Colombia 42.66
147 Venezuela 45.66

In South America, the decade begins with a general deterioration in the situation of press freedom. The context in which journalists in Latin America operate is increasingly complex and hostile, and several countries are among the world’s most dangerous places for journalists.

Africa

World Press Freedom Index - Africa Map
Press Freedom Index 2020 in Africa

Top and bottom of the Press Freedom Index ranking in Africa :

Ranking Country RSF Score 2020
23 Namibia 19.25
25 Cabo Verde 20.15
30 Ghana 22.26
166 Egypt 56.82
176 Djibouti 76.73
178 Eritrea 83.50

Africa is recording significant setbacks, due in particular to an increase in long-term arbitrary detentions, but also to attacks, particularly online, and new repressive laws which, in the name of the fight against disinformation or cybercrime, can be used to unreasonably restrict freedom of information. The economic weakness of the media also exposes them to political or economic influences detrimental to their independence.

Asia

World Press Freedom Index - Asia Map
Press Freedom Index 2020 in Asia

Top and bottom of the Press Freedom Index ranking in Asia-Pacific :

Ranking Country RSF Score 2020
9 New Zealand 10.69
21 Samoa 18.25
26 Australia 20.21
177 China 78.48
179 Turkmenistan 85.44
180 North Korea 85.82

The Asia zone, counts manifold countries among the most dangerous for the profession and brings together the largest prisons in the world for journalists and bloggers. The Asia-Pacific region also holds a great number of “predators of press freedom” states, true black holes of information.

Conclusion

This 2020 World Press Freedom Index states that the coming decade is going to be decisive for press freedom due to five converging factors which can be :

  • a democratic crisis due to polarization and repression
  • a geopolitical crisis driven by the aggressiveness of authoritarian regimes
  • an economic crisis impoverishing quality journalism
  • a trust crisis due to suspicion and even hatred of the media
  • a technological crisis due to a lack of democratic guarantees

To these five types of crisis is now added a health crisis. Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic highlights and amplifies these multiple crises which today threaten the right to free, independent, pluralistic and reliable information.

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