European countries top World Press Freedom Index

2016 Index notes an overall decline in press freedom.

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The 2016 World Press Freedom Index (published by Reporters without Borders) shows "a deep and disturbing decline in respect for media freedom at both the global and regional levels".

The World Press Freedom Index ranks the degree of freedom available to journalists in 180 countries.  Criteria for evaluation include media independence, legislative framework, infrastructure frameworks, transparency and pluralism along with data on acts of violence against journalists.  A questionnaire with 87 questions, translated into 20 languages, was completed by media professionals, lawyers and sociologists.

The global decline in press freedom since 2013 has been calculated at 13.6% due to "increasingly authoritarian tendencies" of governments in, for example, Turkey and Egypt.  Also responsible are the growing number of oligarchs buying up media outlets and the growth of religious ideologies hostile to freedom of the press.  As some countries enforce spurious charges ("insulting the President" or "blasphemy"), journalists are increasingly self-censoring.

The top four performing countries are all European, with Finland leading the way ahead of the Netherlands, Norway and Denmark.  Fourteen of the top 20 performing countries are European.

The UK has fallen four places in the rankings and is now in 38th position.

The worst performing five countries are China, Syria, Turkmenistan, North Korea.  Eritrea remains in bottom place

The full index is available here