News / Europe

Press Freedom Gets Mixed Report Card in Europe

Hundreds of Turkish journalists, some holding photos of recently jailed journalists, march to protest the detention of journalists in an alleged coup plot and demand reforms to Turkey's media laws, in Ankara, Turkey, Mar. 19, 2011.Hundreds of Turkish journalists, some holding photos of recently jailed journalists, march to protest the detention of journalists in an alleged coup plot and demand reforms to Turkey's media laws, in Ankara, Turkey, Mar. 19, 2011.
x
Hundreds of Turkish journalists, some holding photos of recently jailed journalists, march to protest the detention of journalists in an alleged coup plot and demand reforms to Turkey's media laws, in Ankara, Turkey, Mar. 19, 2011.
Hundreds of Turkish journalists, some holding photos of recently jailed journalists, march to protest the detention of journalists in an alleged coup plot and demand reforms to Turkey's media laws, in Ankara, Turkey, Mar. 19, 2011.
Lisa Bryant
Many Western European countries scored near the top of a newly released press freedom report card by Paris-based Reporters Sans Frontieres  (Reporters Without Borders). But overall the region is more checkered, with countries like Russia and Turkey placing near the bottom.

European Union member Finland tops Reporters Sans Frontieres' latest press freedom index. Eight other European countries also rank among the top ten in the world in terms of media liberty.

But RSF's overall rating for the EU is far from perfect.  Out of 179 countries, Italy ranks a disappointing 57th place, while Hungary, which has introduced restrictive media laws, comes in 56th. Greece's rates even lower - in 84th place.

Johann Bihr, head of RSF's Europe and Central Asian Desk, said there's a lesson here for the 27-member European Union.

"The European Union still has much to do to tackle the threats on democratic values inside the European Union," he said. "If it really wants to have a significant power on the Balkans, on Turkey, on Russia, if it really wants to give lessons to its neighbors, then the European Union should work really hard to be exemplary. Which is absolutely not the case."

In Italy, Bihr said, investigative journalists are on mafia hit lists. In Greece, they are also targeted in protests and feeling the heat of the country's economic meltdown: some journalist there are working without salaries.

Even some northern EU countries are far from exemplary. France, where RSF is based, ranks an unimpressive 37th on the scorecard, because of media policies imposed by the previous government, and because of restrictions by the military on journalists covering France's intervention in Mali this year.

"It really was a war without images. It was a war where in France, we could only get to know what happened here through the official communiques and military announcements, which is quite disquieting," said Bihr.

The picture is even grimmer for some of the countries outside the EU. Russia is ranked in 148th place -- near the bottom of the 2013 press freedom index.

Still, Bihr said the situation isn't completely bleak.

"The unprecedented mobilization of the opposition and civil society has opened the space both in the Internet and in the media, where we can see even journalists are gaining confidence and openly discussing political issues, criticizing the Kremlin," he said.

But he said that mobilization has been followed by repressive government measures, and new legislation criminalizing some Internet sites.

Turkey is ranked even lower - in 154th place.

"The situation is very serious as far as freedom of expression is concerned there, but at the same time, it's very dynamic," said Bihr. "It's the biggest jail for journalists in the world, with at least 70 journalists in jail, including 33 jailed for journalistic activities, which is obviously very shameful for a country which poses as a democratic model in the Middle East."

Bihr also linked any improvements in Turkey's ranking to strides in negotiations with Kurdish rebels, along with a series of legal reforms, such as amendments to Turkey's anti-terrorism law that protect and respect journalists.

You May Like

Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Feasts centering on turkeys with an array of traditional sides and desserts are part of the holiday's traditions, which falls on the fourth Thursday in November More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Paradei
X
Anush Avetisyan
November 26, 2014 10:57 PM
Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid