The 21st World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) on May 3, 2023. Photo: RSF

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Paris — Reporters Without Borders (RSF) released its 2023 World Press Freedom Index on Wednesday, which stated that, "China is the world’s largest jailer of journalists, with more than 100 currently detained, and its regime conducts a campaign of repression against journalism and the right to information worldwide and is one of the biggest exporters of propaganda content."

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the Paris-based world press freedom watchdog, released its 21st edition of the 2023 World Press Freedom Index – journalism threatened by fake content industry on May 3, 2023. The ranking, which assesses the state of journalism in 180 countries and territories, the situation is “very serious” in 31 countries, “difficult” in 42, “problematic” in 55, and “good” or “satisfactory” in 52 countries. In other words, the environment for journalism is “bad” in seven out of ten countries, and satisfactory in only three out of ten.

The World Press Freedom Index stated that, "Norway is ranked first for the seventh year running. But – unusually – a non-Nordic country is ranked second, namely Ireland (up 4 places at 2nd), ahead of Denmark (down 1 place at 3rd). The Netherlands (6th) has risen 22 places, recovering the position it had in 2021, before crime reporter Peter R. de Vries was murdered."

The Press Freedom Index adds that, "There are changes at the bottom of the Index, too. The last three places are occupied solely by Asian countries: Vietnam (178th), which has almost completed its hunt of independent reporters and commentators; China (down 4 at 179th), the world’s biggest jailer of journalists and one of the biggest exporters of propaganda content; and, to no great surprise, North Korea (180th)."

The World Press Freeom Index stated while talking about the freedom of reporters in China, "President Xi Jinping, in power since 2012, has restored a media culture worthy of the Maoist era, in which freely accessing information has become a crime and to provide information an even greater crime. China’s state and privately owned media are under the Communist Party’s ever-tighter control, while the administration creates more and more obstacles for foreign reporters."

"The Chinese regime uses surveillance, coercion, intimidation and harassment to keep independent journalists from reporting on issues it deems “sensitive”. China is the world’s largest jailer of journalists, with more than 100 currently detained," the index added.

Christophe Deloire, RSF Secretary-General said, "The World Press Freedom Index shows enormous volatility in situations, with major rises and falls and unprecedented changes, such as Brazil’s 18-place rise and Senegal’s 31-place fall. This instability is the result of increased aggressiveness on the part of the authorities in many countries and growing animosity towards journalists on social media and in the physical world. The volatility is also the consequence of growth in the fake content industry, which produces and distributes disinformation and provides the tools for manufacturing it."

"The 2023 Index spotlights the rapid effects that the digital ecosystem’s fake content industry has had on press freedom. In 118 countries (two-thirds of the 180 countries evaluated by the Index), most of the Index questionnaire’s respondents reported that political actors in their countries were often or systematically involved in massive disinformation or propaganda campaigns. The difference is being blurred between true and false, real and artificial, facts and artifices, jeopardising the right to information. The unprecedented ability to tamper with content is being used to undermine those who embody quality journalism and weaken journalism itself," the press freedom index mentioned.