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    Tuesday, 23 October 2007

    UK ranks only 24th on Press Freedom Index

    The NGO Reporters Without Borders have published their annual ranking of the performance of countries on questions of Press freedom (1,2). The UK has improved slightly to 24th. Of 169 countries, Iceland and Norway are placed joint first, while Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan prop up the table. Other notable placings are the USA (48th) and Russia (144th).

    The ranking is hardly scientific, but rests upon answers to a survey received from 15 freedom of expression organisations throughout the world, its network of 130 correspondents, and journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. The survey contained a set of 50 questions on press freedom in their countries.

    2 comments:

    Russ said...

    Hi Andrew,

    The U.S. is 48th so North Korea can eat our dust...

    You're definitely correct to say that it is hardly scientific. For example, question 21:

    21. Cases of violating the privacy of journalistic sources (prosecution, search of premises, investigations etc.)?

    I think it was Posner who observed that 'privacy' just means concealment -- sometimes for good, sometimes for ill. The U.S. generally does not recognise a reporter's ability to withhold evidence when otherwise required by a lawful order in a court proceeding. It's not because we don't believe in freedom of the press, it's just because that freedom* is outweighed by the defendant's need for a fair trial.

    *We also generally believe in the U.S. that a reporter has no more rights to freedom of expression than a normal person. So a reporter that has information on a crime is in no different position than a blogger, a bystander, or friend of the defendant. They all have an equal obligation to comply with court orders.

    Anyway, I think the U.S. at least beats the U.K. and would debate anyone on that point... U.K. broadcast journalists are really not allowed to even be partial here, right? 'Freedom' also clashes with 'fairness'...

    Iceland? Who knows????? It's probably a bastion of great journalism...

    --Russ

    Divyam Agarwal said...

    I think I agree with what Russ said. I also agree that the ranking is hardly scientific. The idea behind these free speeches and fairness are sometimes affected by some ulterior motive. If I take example of India, unlike USA we don't treat journalist at par with a normal person. This in a way puts a journalist at a higher pivitol then a common man and thus results in creating more obligations on his side. But it again has a downside of it as the journalist sometimes because of his high standing can use it to serve his own good. So in a way these rankings are good only on paper and it does not affect the real freedom which is instilled with the press.

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