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

Multimedia Ferguson, Missouri Streets Calm After Days of Violence

Police official says authorities responded to fewer incidents, noting there were no shootings, Molotov cocktails or fires More

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

For Chanthy Sok, rap infused with Cambodian melodies is a way to pay respect to the survivors of the victims of Khmer Rouge genocide More

Study: Our Life with Neanderthals Was No Brief Affair

Scientists discover thousands of years of overlap between modern humans and their shorter, stockier cousins More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid