This map shows press freedom around the world. The darker the colour, the more threatened press freedom appears. (Courtesy of Reporters Without Borders)

Canada ranks 16th in global press freedom

Norway and North Korea represent polar opposites on the World Press Freedom Index

As the global public marked World Press Freedom Day on Sunday, May 3, Canada ranked 16th on the 2020 World Press Freedom Index prepared by Reporters Without Borders.

The index measures journalistic freedom in 180 countries, drawing a qualitative questionnaire. Categories include pluralism measuring the degree to which opinions are represented in the media, media independence measuring the degree to which media are able to function independently of sources of power, and abuses measuring the level of abuses and violence. Countries receive a score ranging between zero to 100 with zero behind the best and 100 the worst.

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According to the index, Canada scored 15.29, good enough for 16th place, an improvement of two spots compared to 2019. Canada’s best ranking since the start of the index in 2013 was eighth in 2015, its worst was 22nd in 2017. Compared to the other G7 countries, Canada ranks second behind Germany (11th), but ahead of France (34th), the United Kingdom (35th), Italy (41st), the United States (45th) and Japan (66th).

Looking globally, Norway leads with a total score of 7.84, followed by Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Netherlands, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Switzerland, New Zealand and Portugal. The ‘bottom’ 10 start with Cuba (171st) followed by Laos, Iran, Syria, Vietnam, Djibouti, China, Eritrea, Turkmenistan and North Korea.

Other notable offenders against journalistic freedom include several leading countries of the Middle East such as Saudia Arabia (170th), Egypt (166th) and Turkey (154th), several prominent countries in Asia, including Singapore (158th), the Philippines (136th) and Indonesia (119th), as well as several authoritarian and semi-authoritarian countries in eastern and central Europe, starting with Belarus (153th), Russia (149th), Ukraine (96th), as well as Hungary (89th) and Poland (62th), the last two being members of the European Union.

Geographically, press freedom is at its highest in a narrow strip that runs from Scandinavia through Holland, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland, with a few spots outside that corridor.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, seven journalists have so far died in 2020, with five of those cases in Africa or the Middle East. A total of 1,370 journalists between 1992 and 2020 have died because of their work.


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