- India’s ranking in the 2022 World Press Freedom Index has fallen to 150 out of 180 countries, according to the latest report released by the global media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders (RSF). In last year’s report, India was ranked 142.
- The top three positions for countries with the highest press freedom were taken by the Nordic trio of Norway (a score of 92.65), Denmark (90.27) and Sweden (88.84).
What is RSF and what’s the objective of this Index?
- RSF is an international NGO whose self-proclaimed aim is to defend and promote media freedom. Headquartered in Paris, it has consultative status with the United Nations.
- The objective of the World Press Freedom Index, which it releases every year, is to compare the level of press freedom enjoyed by journalists and media in 180 countries and territories in the previous calendar year.
- The RSF defines press freedom as the ability of journalists as individuals and collectives to select, produce, and disseminate news in the public interest independent of political, economic, legal, and social interference and in the absence of threats to their physical and mental safety.
What is the methodology used by RSF to assess and rank countries?
- Countries are ranked after being assigned a score ranging from 0 to 100, with 100 representing the highest possible level of press freedom and 0 the worst.
- The scoring has two components: a quantitative one, that tallies abuses against journalists and media outlets, and a qualitative analysis based on the responses of press freedom specialists (journalists, researchers, human rights defenders) to an RSF questionnaire.
- Countries are evaluated on five contextual indicators: political context, legal framework, economic context, socio-cultural context, and safety.
- India, which had a global score of 53.44 in the 2021 Index, could muster only 41 this time.
What are the findings with regard to world press freedom?
- In terms of global trends, the report flags a two-fold increase in polarisation amplified by information chaos — that is, media polarisation fuelling divisions within countries, as well as polarisation between countries at the international level.
What does the Index say about India?
- The report states that in India, the violence against journalists, the politically partisan media and the concentration of media ownership all demonstrate that press freedom is in crisis.
- Describing India as one of the world’s most dangerous countries for the media, the report notes that journalists are exposed to all kinds of physical violence including police violence, ambushes by political activists, and deadly reprisals by criminal groups or corrupt local officials.