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October 27th, 2008
Red Lines and Deadlines
Press Freedom Around the World

Reporters Without Borders released their annual Press Freedom Index on Wednesday. The report aims to measure the degree of freedom enjoyed by the press in each country and the efforts made by authorities to ensure those freedoms, taking into account abuses committed not only by state authorities, but also armed militias, clandestine organizations, and pressure groups. The report covers the period from Sept. 1, 2007 – Sept. 1, 2008.

The main lesson
to be drawn from the 2008 report is that, “It is not economic prosperity but peace that guarantees press freedom,” according to the Paris-based organization. “Iceland’s per-capita GDP is ten times Jamaica’s. What they have in common is a parliamentary democratic system, and not being involved in any war.” Both are ranked near the top of the list.

Among other patterns in the report is Europe’s dominance in ensuring press freedom: 18 of the top 20 ranked countries are European.

The United States is ranked #36 on the 2008 index, tied with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Cape Verde, South Africa, Spain and Taiwan. If abuses committed outside U.S. territory are included, the country’s rank drops to #119. China ranks #167, Israel #46 (#149 outside its territory), the U.K. #23. The lowest ranked countries are Turkmenistan (#171), North Korea (#172), and Eritrea (#173).

WIDE ANGLE regularly reports on the state of international media, including programs about independent journalists in Iran (ranked #166) and Russia (#141), boundary-pushing Middle Eastern broadcasters in Qatar (#74) and Egypt (#146), and politics and the media in the Balkans and Italy (#44).

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