Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has warned that hatred promoted against journalists primarily to favour populist and authoritarian leaders is taking shape of violence now. The report also revealed a harrowing situation regarding press freedom. World Press Freedom Index showed that the number of countries where journalists could work freely and have opinions against the popular state narratives is shrinking – and it is worrying.
The report said that the hostility of political leaders towards media “has incited increasingly frequent acts of violence that have fuelled an unprecedented level of fear and danger for journalists”.
RSF chief Christophe Deloire warned that journalists are being used as a scapegoat across the world, which is a concerning situation.
“If the political debate slides towards a civil war-style atmosphere, where journalists are treated as scapegoats, then democracy is in great danger” – he said.
He said that if it continues the same way, democracy across the world is in danger, more than ever before.
“If the political debate slides towards a civil war-style atmosphere, where journalists are treated as scapegoats, then democracy is in great danger”.
Assessing the standing for the United States of America, the time since President Donald Trump’s election in 2016 has called one of the “American journalism community’s darkest moments” in the report.
It added that after Trump took the position, his anti-press rhetoric lead to increased death threats and terrifying harassment particularly against women and people of colour. Journalists had to turn to private security firms for protection.
“Hatred of the media is now such that a gunman walked into the Capital Gazette newsroom in Annapolis, Maryland, in June and killed four journalists and one other staff member” – the said report further added.
The Paris-based media watchdog further added that fascism against media in populist regimes “no longer seem to know any limits”.
Press freedom was in good health in less than a quarter of the total of 180 countries graphed by the index. The United States took the 48th place.
Pakistan, however, stood among the lowest ranked as well, clinching 142nd position.
The world’s biggest democracy India further dropped two places and stood at 140th – the red zone. Six reporters were murdered their last year as a consequence of BJP’s extremist Hindu nationalist ideology as they the critics are branded as anti-nationals and subjected to harassment in online campaigns.
With India, Turkey also stood among the worst countries for freedom of expression and liberation. Not to forget, Turkey also has the shame on its name for being the only country to prosecute a journalist for reporting the Paradise Papers offshore investment leaks. Turkish journalist Pelin Unker was sentenced to prison because she ‘defamed former premier and two of his sons’ by exposing their offshore investments.
Russia, labelled as “pioneer of repression” by the report, continued to slide down, standing at 149th rank.
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