Hatred of journalists whipped up by populist and authoritarian leaders is degenerating into violence across the world, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders (RSF) warned yesterday.
Political leaders’ hostility towards the media “has incited increasingly frequent acts of violence that have fuelled an unprecedented level of fear and danger for journalists,” its annual World Press Freedom Index revealed.
“If the political debate slides towards a civil war-style atmosphere, where journalists are treated as scapegoats, then democracy is in great danger,” RSF chief Christophe Deloire said.
Press freedom was in good health in less than quarter of the 180 countries covered by the index, with the United States sliding to 48th place.
The period since President Donald Trump’s election in 2016 has been one of the “American journalism community’s darkest moments”, the report added.
India, the world’s biggest democracy, slid two notches further into the red zone at 140th place.
Turkey, the world’s biggest jailer of journalists, was among the worst countries. Russia continued to slide down the table to 149th place. There is little to cheer about in China too, which remains rooted to the bottom of the list with the fourth worst record.
The best performing countries continue to be in Scandinavia with Norway, Finland and Sweden taking the top three places.