Freedom House survey: Only one in seven people live in a country with a free press - Press Gazette

Freedom House survey: Only one in seven people live in a country with a free press

According to US-based watchdog Freedom House global press freedom has fallen to its lowest level in a decade with just one in seven people around the world living in a country which has a free press.

Press freedom setbacks have been most severe in Turkey, Ukraine, East Africa, Libya, Egypt and Jordon – the group warns. The map above shows countries with a free press in green, partly free in yellow and not free in purple (interactive map here).

Attacks on journalists were cited as a major reason for the decline in press freedom. The group warned that last year saw the most significant decline in press freedom in the United States – partly as a result of the Guardian’s Edward Snowden revelations.

The report said this was due to “government attempts to control official information flows, particularly concerning national security related issues, the legal harassment of journalists with regard to protection of sources and revelations of surveillance that included both the bulk collection of communications data by the National Security Agency and the targeted wiretapping of media outlets".

In the UK, press freedom scored a boost with the long-awaited reform of libel law. But Freedom House expressed concern about Government threats against The Guardian over its  NSA coverage and the detention of Glenn Greenwald.

It is also said that the establishment of a new press regulator in the wake of the Leveson inquiry had “raised concerns among some observers".

Ireland, which already has a legally-backed system of press regulation in the for of its Press Council, scores a higher press freedom score than the UK with 16 versus 23.

Here is how Freedom House's press freedom rating for the UK has changed over the last 20 years:

Freedom House said: "This year’s findings are a troubling reminder that despite the openings created by the internet, transnational media, and the privatiation of broadcasting, new and old threats to media freedom are restricting both journalists’ ability to operate and the public's access to independent information."

Read the full report here.

Author: Dominic Ponsford

Dominic Ponsford is the editor of Press Gazette