Hatred of journalists increasing, even in Europe, which has traditionally respected the freedom of the press, according to Reporters Without Borders, an NGO that lobbies for freedom of informatio. Photo credit: GGAADD on Flickr
The 2018 World Press Freedom Index has found that there is a growing animosity towards journalists, often encouraged by world leaders. It reports that even those countries that have traditionally respected the freedom of the press have not been untouched by what it describes as, “hatred of journalism.”
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.” It states that this hostility towards journalists is, “openly encouraged by political leaders, and the efforts of authoritarian regimes to export their vision of journalism pose a threat to democracies.”
The index, which evaluates the levels of press freedom in 180 countries each year, finds that, “More and more democratically elected leaders no longer see media as part of democracy’s essential underpinning, but as an adversary to which they openly display their aversion.”
Alarmingly, the report also finds that this trend is no longer limited to authoritarian countries such as Turkey, ranked in 157th place, and Egypt at 161st place, but that even countries which traditionally respected the freedom of the press are being influenced by this global trend towards “media-phobia”.
Verbal abuse towards journalists is also on the increase in Europe and this is the region that respects press freedom the most. In the Czech Republic, which dropped 11 places on the index to be ranked 34, “President Milos Zeman turned up at a press conference with a fake Kalashnikov inscribed with the words ‘for journalists.’”
The index has further disturbing findings:
“In Slovakia, (down 10 at 27th), then Prime Minister Robert Fico called journalists “filthy anti-Slovak prostitutes” and “idiotic hyenas.” A Slovak reporter, Ján Kuciak, was shot dead in his home in February 2018, just four months after another European journalist, Daphne Caruana Galizia, was killed by a targeted car-bombing in Malta (down 18 at 65th).”
In fact, the index clearly states that:
“It’s in Europe, the region where press freedom is the safest, that the regional indicator has worsened most this year. Four of this year’s five biggest falls in the index are those of European countries: Malta (down 18 at 65th), Czech Republic (down 11 at 34th), Serbia (down 10 at 76th) and Slovakia (down 10 at 27th).”
Norway and Sweden remain top in terms of press freedom and the safety of journalists. Luxembourg is ranked in 17th place, down 2 places since the 2017 edition.