A truly free and independent press is a vital component of any healthy democratic society. The need for transparency and for those who wield governmental and corporate power to be held accountable is vital. The annual briefing by Reporters Without Borders, has pointed out that press freedom has never been as threatened as it is now. Based in Paris, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is an independent NGO with consultative status with the United Nations, UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the International Organization of the Francophonie (OIF).
In its annual briefing, Reporters Without Borders warned about the dangers of highly concentrated media ownership. Alongside this the rise in surveillance and of authoritarian leaders across the globe is undermining freedoms, the watchdog said, with worrying signs even in established democracies. In the latest Press Freedom Index, Celtic countries that fall within the United Kingdom saw that the UK fell two places to 40th position in the index. Brittany which is included in the results for France saw France at 39th position. Ireland, where concentrated media ownership has been criticised, has fallen five places from ninth to 14th. Countries with large numbers of those with Celtic descent include the USA, which is positioned at (43rd), Canada (22nd), Australia (19th) and New Zealand (13th).
Nordic countries Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark occupy the first four places in the Press Freedom Index in that order. However, the report makes disturbing reading and states that: ‘Media freedom has never been so threatened and RSF’s “global indicator” has never been so high (3872). This measure of the overall level of media freedom constraints and violations worldwide has risen 14% in the span of five years. In the past year, nearly two thirds (62.2%) of the countries measured have registered a deterioration in their situation, while the number of countries where the media freedom situation was “good” or “fairly good” fell by 2.3%’.