World Press Freedom Declines in 2009

Global press freedom suffered greater declines in 2009 for the 8th consecutive year, according to Freedom House’s annual “Freedom of the Press” report.

The report indicates that only one in six people live in countries with a “free” press, while 40 percent of the population lives in a country without freedom of the press. Three fourths of the Middle East and North African countries are considered “not free.”

Four of the 10 “worst of the worst” countries are within RFE/RL’s broadcast region, including Belarus, Iran, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Others include Burma, Cuba, North Korea, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea and Libya.

The number of attacks against journalists has increased this past year, contributing to the low rankings in certain countries.  Three out of 4 journalists killed worldwide were murdered, according to Frank Smyth of the Committee to Protect journalists. With an impunity rate of 89 percent, it has become easy in some countries to silence dissenters without fear of repercussion. Political influence on the media and Internet restrictions also increased this year.

Overall, Eastern Europe and Russia underwent modest declines while the Middle East saw the greatest decline this year.

Below, see how RFE/RL’s broadcast regions fared in the press freedom rankings. Most countries are considered “not free,” but a few saw some improvement from 2008.

My RFE peeps at the press conference

RFE countries

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