Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Watchdog group issues dismal report on global press freedom

Watchdog group issues dismal report on global press freedom
04/29/2015 4:38 AM 04/29/2015 4:39 AM

Journalists in many parts of the world face deteriorating reporting
conditions, with a democracy watchdog group noting a sharp decline in
global press freedom in 2014.

In its annual report released Wednesday, the group Freedom House says
global press freedom declined last year to its lowest point in more than
10 years. Only one in seven people live in countries where coverage of
political news is strong, journalists' safety is guaranteed and state
meddling in media affairs is minor, Freedom House said.

The worst offenders on the Freedom House list were: Belarus, Crimea,
Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Turkmenistan
and Uzbekistan.

Ranked best: Norway, Sweden and Belgium. The United States was ranked
34th on the list of 199 countries and territories assessed.

Freedom House says one main factor driving the decline was newly passed
restrictive laws against the media. The report cited laws in Russia and
Mexico that place new controls on blogs. Physical violence and
intimidation of journalists continued to be a problem, especially in
places such as Syria and Nigeria.

"Governments used security or anti-terrorism laws as a pretext to
silence critical voices," said the report's project manager, Jennifer
Dunham. "Militant groups and criminal gangs used increasingly brazen
tactics to intimidate journalists, and media owners attempted to
manipulate news content to serve their political or business interests."

Freedom House ranks countries as free, partly free or not free. Of the
countries it looked at last year, it found 63, or 32 percent, as free;
71, or 36 percent, as partly free; and 65, or 32 percent, as not free.

Despite the recent diplomatic opening between the United States and
Cuba, and the release of dozens of political prisoners late last year —
the report notes that journalists remained behind bars in Cuba in 2014
and official censorship remained pervasive, leaving Cuba as one of the
10 worst offenders on the group's list.

Source: Watchdog group issues dismal report on global press freedom |
Miami Herald Miami Herald -

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