Freedom Of Expression For Global Journalists Is At Lowest Point Since 2000
By:   //  Citizen Journalism

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Freedom of expression is at its lowest point since 2000. This is according to a new study showing journalists today face threats of government censorship, organized crime, and commercial pressures brought on by the internet.

“Global media freedom is at its lowest level since the start of the century,” said the report from Article 19, a freedom of expression campaign group working in tandem with V-Dem, a political and social database.

Of all nations, Turkey showed the biggest decline in freedom of speech from 2006-2016. However, journalists and press workers from Brazil, Burundi, Egypt, Poland, Venezuela, and Bangladesh are also seeing a disturbing decline in the diversity and independence of media.

“For the first time, we have a comprehensive and holistic overview of the state of freedom of expression and information around the world,” said Thomas Hughes, the executive director of Article 19.

“Unfortunately, our findings show that freedom of expression is under attack in democracies as well as authoritarian regimes,” said Hughes. 

Report Examined 172 Countries Over A 10-Year Span

The report focused on 172 countries over a 10-year period. It based findings on a metric called the ‘expression agenda,’ factoring in 32 social and political indicators, including internet censorship, access to justice, media bias, corruption, harassment of journalists, and equality for social classes and genders.

Hughes said global press workers currently face threats of intimidation and prosecution. He said even the threat of murder exists in some parts of the world. One such country is Mexico, which saw 426 attacks against journalists and media outlets in 2016.

UK Dinged In Report 

The UK was responsible for one of the most draconian surveillance laws. Hughes labeled the UK’s Investigatory Powers Act as “a template for authoritarian regimes, and seriously undermining the rights of its citizens to privacy and freedom of expression”.

As of April, at least 152 Turkish journalists were in prison. More than 170 media organizations in that country have been shut down since last year’s coup with the government. Over 2,500 journalists lost their jobs after the government’s media crackdown.

On a brighter note, the Article 19 report did find improvements. Freedom of speech and expression broadened in countries such as Sri Lanka, Nepal and Tunisia. The introduction of freedom was praised in 119 countries.

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