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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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 Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More