Global press freedom has recently declined to its all time low ever in 13 years in 2016 amid unprecedented threats to journalists and media outlets in major democracies. As per the research done by Freedomhouse.org only 13 percent of the world’s population enjoys a Free press.
Not to forget the far-reaching attacks on news media in a democratic society by Donald Trump, first as a candidate and now as the President of United States.Borrowing a term popularized by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, Trump has labeled the news media as “enemies of the people”.
Yet, U.S. remains as one of the most press-friendly countries in the world, in comparison to the countries like North Korea, Turkmenistan, Iran, Syria who are designated as Not-free in the Freedom of press 2017.
While the press freedom declined most in countries like Poland, Turkey, Tajikistan, Bolivia, Serbia and Hong Kong, it subsequently gained primarily and in most numbers in Sri Lanka, Argentina, Greece and Panama. Acts like installation of a colorful exhibition at a Belgrade art gallery that branded critical news outlets as liars by Serbia Prime Minister Aleksandar Vučić’s governing Progressive Party have declined the freedom of press.
The global decline in press freedom will likely continue in the absence of strong leadership from the United States, EU members, and other democracies. If President Donald Trump and his administration continue their harsh criticism of factual reporting and take other actions that pose a threat to the U.S. constitution’s First Amendment, Washington’s ability to apply normative pressure to media freedom violators around the world will suffer.
A number of democracies, including individual EU member states, continue to safeguard the principles of media independence and exert a positive soft-power influence beyond their borders, but they cannot fill a void left by the United States and the EU as a whole.