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IRELAND HAS RANKED in 15th place on a new global survey of press freedoms – retaining its place from last year.
The World Press Freedom Index, produced by Reporters Without Borders (RWB), sees European countries continue to dominate the top placings – with Finland, the Netherlands and Norway leading the global index.
At the other end of the scale, Eritrea has the least press freedom, followed by North Korea and Turkmenistan – with the former country described as “a vast open prison for its people and lets journalists die in detention”.
In an accompanying publication, RWB said its system did not take into account the political system that operated in each country, but that it was evident that countries with sustained democracies tended to have a freer press which could offer more accurate news and information.
“In dictatorships, news providers and their families are exposed to ruthless reprisals, while in democracies news providers have to cope with the media’s economic crises and conflicts of interest,” said RWB secretary-general Christophe Deloire.
Ireland had ranked joint-first in 2009, but fell to 10th in 2010 after the introduction of laws which could lead to fines of up to €25,000 for blasphemy.
The overall theme of this year’s report is that countries which had been witness to Arab Spring protests – and which last year appeared to show signs of allowing a more open and unregulated press – had failed to deliver on that promise.
The United States is one of the biggest movers, rising 15 places to 32nd. Last year’s score had been dragged down by the clamping down on the Occupy Wall Street movement, which “did not spare reporters in the field”. The UK fell one place to 29th.
The Reporters Without Borders rankings are calculated by giving each country a score from 0 to 100 (0 being the best score) in categories including pluralism, media independence, self-censorship, laws, transparency and news production infrastructure.
The results are then averaged out to produce a single final figure.