Sunday, May 03, 2009

Press freedom on the decline

I am not one of the bloggers who believe that the so-called new media (blogs, twitter etc.) will take over the role of the old media (newspapers, TV etc.). Rather I believe that blogs and other alternative news sources can add as supplements to, and fact checkers of, regular media. There are many reasons I believe this, and I am probably to some degree colored by the fact that I grew up with a father who was a financial journalist, but whatever the reasons behind my stance, it's very much dependent upon the existence of a free media.

This is why a new report by Freedom House disturbs me.

Their press release sums it up pretty well.

New Study: Global Press Freedom Declines in Every Region for First Time Israel, Italy and Hong Kong Lose Free Status

Journalists faced an increasingly grim working environment in 2008, with global press freedom declining for a seventh straight year and deterioration occurring for the first time in every region, according to Freedom House's annual media study. The rollback was not confined to traditionally authoritarian states; with Israel, Italy and Hong Kong slipping from the study's Free category to Partly Free status.

The actual report is linked from the press release, and it's well worth reading. Even if you disagree with my stance on old vs. new media, most, or all, of the limitations on press freedom will also but limits on blogging, podcasting etc.

For democracies to work properly, it's necessary for the population to have access to independent reporting, so it's especially disturbing to see several democracies on the list of "partly free" countries.

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