The 2022 index judges press freedom as ‘satisfactory’ in Seychelles (ranked at 13 in the world), Namibia (ranked at 18), South Africa (35), Cape Verde (36), Cote d’Ivoire (37), Burkina Faso (41) and Sierra Leone (46).
CAPE TOWN, South Africa: There is more press freedom in the Seychelles than in the world’s most economically powerful nations, according to a new report from Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF). And seven African nations enjoy more press freedom than the United States, Italy and Japan.
RSF is a Paris-based non-profit, founded by journalists, which promotes freedom of information and has been publishing its World Press Freedom Index since 2002.
This year’s annual ranking of 180 countries according to the ability of journalists to report freely on their countries shows that while no African nation is among the eight countries where the state of press freedom is “good”, none of the G7 grouping of nations fall into that category either.
The 2022 index judges press freedom as “satisfactory” in seven African nations: Seychelles (ranked at 13 in the world), Namibia (ranked at 18), South Africa (35), Cape Verde (36), Cote d’Ivoire (37), Burkina Faso (41) and Sierra Leone (46).
Germany (ranked at 16), Canada (19), the United Kingdom (24) and France (26) compete with Seychelles and Namibia in the press freedom stakes. But the United States (ranked 47th) falls behind all the African nations in the “satisfactory” group, and Italy (58th) and Japan (71st) appear only in the category of countries where press freedom is “problematic”.
At the bottom end of the index, three African countries are among the 28 across the world where press freedom faces “very serious” threats: Eritrea (179), Djibouti (176) and Egypt (168). Only in North Korea is there less freedom than in Eritrea.
Among non-African nations where the threat is judged “very serious” are China (175), Palestine (170), Saudi Arabia (166), Nicaragua (160), Venezuela (159) and Russia (155). The state of press freedom is “difficult” in India (150), and “problematic” in Ukraine (106).
The Reporters Sans Frontières index ranks the state of press freedom in five categories: “Good”, “Satisfactory”, “Problematic”, “Difficult” and “Very serious”. Outside Europe, only Costa Rica in Central America enjoys the top ranking.
Most African nations fall into the “problematic” and “difficult” groups.
Among those where press freedom is problematic, from the best to worst, are Gambia (50), Niger (59), Ghana (60), Mauritius (64), Kenya (69). Senegal (73), Liberia (75), Guinea (84), Botswana (95).
Among those where conditions are difficult, also from best to worst, are Tanzania (123), the DR Congo (125), South Sudan (128), Nigeria (129), Eswatini (131), Uganda (132), Rwanda (136), Zimbabwe (137), Somalia (140), and Sudan (151).
RSF defines “press freedom” as “the ability of journalists as individuals and collectives to select, produce, and disseminate news in the public interest independent of political, economic, legal, and social interference and in the absence of threats to their physical and mental safety.”
It says the index is a “snapshot” based on “an evaluation of pluralism, independence of the media, quality of legislative framework and safety of journalists”.
Through much of the index, nations perform worst in RSF’s survey of the economic contexts within which journalists work. Among influences on journalists which are examined are economic constraints linked to governmental policies, to advertisers and commercial partners and to media owners seeking to promote or defend their business interests.
In the United States, for example, while journalists are relatively free of social and cultural constraints (the nation scores 81 on a scale of 1-100), as well as legal constraints (77), economic constraints place them in the “problematic” category (scoring 59).