From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Highlights of the report
Mains level : Freedom of Press
India has dropped two places on a global press freedom index to be ranked 142nd out of 180 countries in the annual World Press Freedom Report.
Press freedom especially after the abrogation of Art. 370 in J&K was profoundly debated back then. We can expect a mains question like-
“Reasonable restrictions to the freedoms enjoyed by media are necessary while addressing the concerns of national security. Critically comment.”
World Press Freedom Index
- The Press Freedom Index is an annual ranking of countries compiled and published by Reporters Without Borders.
- It is based upon the organization’s own assessment of the countries’ press freedom records.
- It intends to reflect the degree of freedom that journalists, news organisations, and netizens have in each country, and the efforts made by authorities to respect this freedom.
- The report is partly based on a questionnaire which asks questions about pluralism media independence, environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and infrastructure.
Highlights on India
- The report said that with no murders of journalists in India in 2019, as against six in 2018.
- However, there have been constant press freedom violations, including police violence against journalists, ambushes by political activists, and reprisals instigated by criminal groups or corrupt local officials.
- Norway is ranked first in the Index for the fourth year running.
- India ranked better than its neighbours Pakistan (145) and Bangladesh (151), but worse than Sri Lanka (127) and Nepal (112).
- China at 177th position is just three places above North Korea, which is at 180th.
Various threats to press freedom
- Across the world, press freedom is under pressure from aggressive authoritarian regimes.
- The media is also facing a technological crisis, due to a lack of democratic guarantees and a democratic crisis following polarization and repressive policies, the report reads.
- In addition comes a crisis of trust following growing suspicion and even hatred of the media, and an economic crisis and impoverishing of quality journalism.
- Among other issues, the report has listed coordinated social media hate campaigns against journalists reporting on issues that “annoy right-wing followers”, criminal prosecutions to gag journalists critical of authorities and police violence against journalists.