Britain has dropped two places in the latest World Press Freedom Index, which ranks countries on the freedom of their journalists. Now ranked at 40, the UK sits behind countries including Surinam, Namibia, and South Africa.
The drop follows the passing of the Investigatory Powers Act last December, which increased the Government’s surveillance powers, as well as proposed plans to crack down on national security journalism. It also comes after a report from the Index on Censorship, which said press freedom was “under threat like never before”.
A free press is a fundamental part of a free and fair democracy, and is an important part of our human rights: the right to free expression is enshrined in the Human Rights Convention. As well as allowing people to express their views, a free press holds the Government of the day to account, and stops it using the media to conceal its own wrongdoings and to further its own political agenda.
A global picture of press freedom
The global picture (Photo: Reporters Without Borders)
Compiled by Reporters Without Borders the ranking looks at pluralism and diversity of the media, independence of outlets, the quality of legislative framework surrounding journalism and the safety of reporters in each country. States are also grouped into levels of freedom ranging from ‘good situation’ to ‘very serious situation’.
As well as seeing a drop in the UK’s rankings, the organisation noted a general shift away from press freedom, especially in Europe. “Media freedom’s erosion is particularly visible in the European democracies,” they add. “This index reflects a world in which attacks on the media have become commonplace and strongmen are on the rise. We have reached the age of post-truth, propaganda, and suppression of freedoms – especially in democracies.”
Want to know more about press freedom in the UK?
- You can read the full report and rankings on the Reporters Without Borders website
- See our feature on four times human rights have helped protect press freedom
- Take a look at our infographic on the right to freedom of expression