Armenia ranked 80th in 2017 Press Freedom Index

Frederick Owens
April 26, 2018

The World Press Freedom Index 2018, compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and published on 24 April 2018 reports that, "Hatred of journalism threatens democracies".

The worldwide non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released the index on April 25. Last year, Reporters Without Borders called for charges against journalists covering the Dakota Access pipeline protests and the St. Louis protests against police brutality to be dropped. Worse still, "humiliating" media content has been criminalized since 2013 - Reporters without borders write about Croatia, adding that one more problem is the meddling of the government in the public TV broadcaster HRT - limiting media independence.

However, the current government seems more inclined to talk with journalists and the media as whole, unlike the two previous governments, which were much less open to dialogue, RSF noted.

In its annual report, the organisation said that journalists have become the target of a growing wave of oppression with the leaders' explicit hostile speeches against them.

"Corruption and collusion between media, politicians, and oligarchs is widespread" in Bulgaria, Reporters Without Borders said, adding that the government's allocation of European Union funding to certain media outlets "is conducted with a complete lack of transparency, in effect bribing them to go easy on the government in their reporting or refrain from covering certain problematic stories altogether".

Both organizations strongly criticized American President Donald Trump.

"A media-bashing enthusiast, Trump has referred to reporters as 'enemies of the people, ' a term once used by Joseph Stalin", RSF said. "It's phony stuff. It didn't happen".

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For the second successive year, Australia has ranked at #19 on the Index.

North Korea came in last place overall, while Eritrea, Turkmenistan, Syria and China also made up the bottom five.

Historically, Europe has had the freest press in the world.

With regard to Europe, "the region where press freedom is the safest", it was found to be the region with the biggest negative downturn.

In Poland, officials fined a television station for supporting "illegal activities" by reporting on anti-government protests, Freedom House said. "It appears the Trump effect has only amplified the disappointing press freedom climate that predated his presidency". The report identified one reason as businessmen linked to the ruling party purchasing most of the independent media. Turkey continues to have the highest rate of putting journalists in prison.

The report further notes that "as elsewhere in the world in 2017, this verbal violence has tragically led to physical violence".

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