Press freedom in Europe 'slumped'

30.01.2013 - 12:17

Reporters without Borders (RWB), the international freedom of expression watchdog, released today its press freedom index 2013, characterising the social and professional environment for Greek journalists as ‘disastrous’.

According to the annual ranking, Greece has recorded a ‘dramatic fall’ with 14 positions, thus occupying 84th place in this year’s index. To compare, the country was placed on 70th position last year out of 179 possible.

Greece’s current ranking assigned it a place among democracies which ‘stall or go reverse’, together with Hungary (56th place, recording a fall of 16 positions) and Japan (53th place, marking a fall of 31 places).

According to RWB, the fall of Greece was ‘disturbing’ because it reflected the current state of affairs with the social and professional environment for Greek journalists, ‘who are exposed to public condemnation and violence from both extremist groups and the police’.

In particular, the press freedom index concluded that ‘exposed to popular anger and continually facing violence on the part of both extremists and the police, reporters and photojournalists must now cope with the ultra-violent neo-Nazi activists of the Golden Dawn party’.

The ranking also revealed that outside the European Union (EU), freedom of information was ‘in a state of collapse’, while within its borders, Hungary and Greece ‘have slumped’. Moreover, concerning press freedom in the Balkans, the index concluded that the region remained ‘rooted in the repressive practices of the past.’

Nevertheless, the status quo was maintained in many of the countries in the European Union with 16 being listed among the top 30. In particular, the index acknowledged that three European countries, Finland, the Netherlands and Norway, managed to keep their leading positions for a third consecutive year and remained the top three countries most respecting media freedom.

RWB observed that at first sight, this was encouraging, but it ‘concealed the slow erosion of the European model as a result of inconsistencies and worrying developments among the other 11 countries, some of which fell below 80th place.’ Besides Greece, these other states included also the EU member Bulgaria (87th place), the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM-116th) and Ukraine (126th).

Concerning Croatia which is due to join the European Union this summer, Reporters without Borders’ press freedom index placed the country on 64th place which marked its rise with four positions compared to last year.