Watchdog: Media freedom has deteriorated during pandemic

US & World

Christophe Deloire, head of RSF (Reporters without borders) stands in front of the 2021 map of press freedom in Paris, France, Tuesday April, 20, 2021. Reporters Without Borders says there has been a “dramatic deterioration” of press freedom since the pandemic tore across the world. Its new World Press Freedom Index evaluated the media in 180 countries and painted a stark picture. The group says in its annual report that 73% of nations have serious issues with media freedom. It says countries have used the pandemic “as grounds to block journalists’ access to information, sources and reporting in the field.” The media watchdog says it is particularly true for governments in Asia, the Mideast and Europe. (AP Photo/Lewis Joly)

PARIS (AP) — There’s been a “dramatic deterioration” of press freedom since the pandemic started to tear across the world, Reporters Without Borders said in its annual report published Tuesday.

The group’s new World Press Freedom Index, which evaluated the press situations in 180 countries, painted a stark picture and concluded that 73% of the world’s nations have serious issues with media freedoms.

It says countries have used the coronavirus pandemic, which erupted in China in late 2019, “as grounds to block journalists’ access to information, sources and reporting in the field.”

This is particularly the case in Asia, the Mideast and Europe, the media group said.

“Journalism is the best vaccine against disinformation,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said. “Unfortunately, its production and distribution are too often blocked by political, economic, technological and, sometimes, even cultural factors. In response to the virality of disinformation across borders, on digital platforms and via social media, journalism provides the most effective means of ensuring that public debate is based on a diverse range of established facts.”

Issues have also arisen from a drop in public trust in journalism itself. The group said 59% of people polled in 28 countries claimed that journalists “deliberately try to mislead the public by reporting information they know to be false.”

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