Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres, RSF) have released their 2020 World Press Freedom Index, which calculates the global press freedom ranking of countries around the world. This year, due to the AFP raids in 2019, the lack of legislative protections for the function journalism plays in our democracy, and concentrated media ownership, Australia’s position has fallen from 21st to 26th. We have fallen eight places since 2018, a worrying trajectory.

The Asia–Pacific as a whole has slipped more than any other region in the world, with RSF stating:

“It is the Asia-Pacific region that saw the greatest rise in press freedom violations (up 1.7%). Australia (down 5 at 26th) used to be the regional model but is now characterised by its threats to the confidentiality of sources and to investigative journalism.

Two other countries also made significant contributions to the increase in the region’s press freedom violation score. One was Singapore (158th), which fell seven places, in large part thanks to its Orwellian “fake news” law, and joined the countries coloured black on the press freedom map. The other was Hong Kong, which also fell seven places because of its treatment of journalists during pro-democracy demonstrations.”

These results bring further clarity to the need for Australia to safeguard its democracy by introducing a Media Freedom Act, which the AJF has been calling for since before the AFP raids. It is essential to the democratic health of the country and its national security, but also to the health of the region.

Read the full report here.

Photo credit: Unsplash

 

Press freedom in the age of COVID-19

The Alliance for Journalists’ Freedom is speaking to journalists and publishers in the Asia–Pacific to determine the impact the COVID-19 virus has had – and is having – on press freedom in the region.

Please help us gather this data by taking this short survey, and sharing it with other journalists, publishers and press freedom organisations, so that we can design effective and long-term regional solutions to support press freedom in the Asia–Pacific.

Take the Survey