Reporters Without Borders will release its 2016 Press Freedom Index next week and a preview from the group about the details is alarming, showing yet another year of overall global decline in press freedom. The annual index has shown press freedom has been on a consistent decline since 2013.
"The many reasons for this decline in freedom of information include the increasingly authoritarian tendencies of governments in countries such as Turkey and Egypt, tighter government control of state-owned media, even in some European countries such as Poland, and security situations that have become more and more fraught, in Libya and Burundi, for example, or that are completely disastrous, as in Yemen," Reporter Without Borders released in a statement previewing the index. "The survival of independent news coverage is becoming increasingly precarious in both the state and privately-owned media because of the threat from ideologies, especially religious ideologies, that are hostile to media freedom, and from large-scale propaganda machines. Throughout the world, “oligarchs” are buying up media outlets and are exercising pressure that compounds the pressure already coming from governments."
In addition to state governments actively destroying internet infrastructure to limit the work of journalists, new laws have been passed in a number of countries to punish journalists with prison time for loose definitions of blasphemy, insulting leaders and "supporting" terrorism by reporting on opposition movements.
"The Americas have plunged 20.5%, above all as a result of the impact of physical attacks and murders targeting journalists in Mexico and Central America. Europe and the Balkans declined 6.5%, above all because of the growing influence of extremist movements and ultraconservative governments," the statement continues. "The Central Asia/Eastern Europe region’s already bad score deteriorated by 5% as a result of the increasingly glacial environment for media freedom and free speech in countries with authoritarian regimes."
Recently, Turkey has specifically targeted journalists for reporting about unrest and ISIS influence in the country. Turkey has also targeted western journalists for publishing satirical material about Islam.
When Turkish President Recep Erdogan visited Washington D.C. two weeks ago, his security team rouged up journalists outside of the Brookings Institute and had to be reminded by U.S. Secret Service that they were, in fact, in America and could not physically attack the press.
The 2016 Press Freedom Index will be released on April 20.