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Thursday, February 13, 2014

Australia slips two spots in Press Freedom rankings

Australia ranked 28 of 180 countries in the 2014 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index, down two places from last year. With Attorney General Brandis heading the Freedom Wars on the one hand and transparency clouding over on the other, the 2015 rating should be particularly interesting.

Finland, Netherlands and Norway are at the top, with other rankings of interest New Zealand 9 (down one place) UK 33 (down 4), US 46 (down 14), and in the region PNG 44, Japan 59 (down six), Indonesia 132 (up seven) India 140, Cambodia 144, Malaysia 147, Philippines 149, Vietnam 174 and China 175.

There are no country reports released with the index but we rated this mention in the Asia region report: 
In Australia, the lack of adequate legislative protection for the confidentiality of journalists’ sources continues to expose them to the threat of imprisonment for contempt of court for refusing to reveal their sources. No fewer than seven requests for disclosure of sources were submitted to the courts in 2013 alone

Since these surveys began in 2002 the first was our best (12), the next our worst (50), with significant movement within these tram-tracks since. In 2007 when the media coalition Australia's Right to Know was formed to address concerns about free speech our ranking was the same as this year, 28. We managed 16 in 2009 then 18, 30 and 26 last year.

Professor of Journalism and Social Media at Griffith University Mark Pearson lists himself as Australian correspondent for RTF. The report itself doesn't identify those involved in country surveys and reports.
Some coverage in The Australian and Crikey (subscription).

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