Credit: Kim B

Czech Republic Drops Three Places To 17th In Media Freedom Rankings; Slovakia is 29th

The Czech Republic has dropped three places to 17th out of 180 countries in the media freedom index, released today by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). Meanwhile, Slovakia fell 12 places to 29th. 

Around the world, the report warns, freedom of the press is under threat from the very people who should be its guarantors, namely governments and political authorities.

Norway is in first place, as it was last year, and Eritrea is last.

According to RSF, more and more governments and political bodies are failing in their role as guarantors of the best possible environment for journalism and the public’s right to reliable, independent and diverse news and information. The organisation notes a worrying decline in support and respect for media autonomy and an increase in pressure from the state and other political actors.

It specifically notes Slovakia’s decline in the rankings and warns of the threat of election manipulation using artificial intelligence (AI). In particular, it mentions the case of an AI-generated audio recording of Slovak journalist Monika Todova, which it considers one of the first documented cases of this type of attack on journalists to influence the outcome of a democratic election.

After several governments that tried to improve press freedom, Prime Minister Robert Fico came back to power in the 2023 parliamentary elections, marking the end of efforts in this area, RSF notes in a more detailed assessment of the country. Journalists work in a hostile environment and public and private media remain vulnerable to non-journalism-related interests in Slovakia, the NGO also stated.

In the Czech Republic, press freedom is threatened by a high concentration of private media as well as hatred of journalists on the Internet. The organisation sees some legislative changes made by Prime Minister Petr Fiala’s coalition which could be beneficial.

Denmark, Sweden, the Netherlands and Finland follow Norway at the top of the press freedom index this year. Estonia, Portugal, Ireland, Switzerland and Germany also made the top ten.

The United States dropped ten places to 55th, while Argentina fell 26 places to 66th due to the election of Javier Milei as president. Russia, on the other hand, improved by two places, but is still ranked 162nd. Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, almost all independent media have been banned, blocked and/or declared “foreign agents” or “undesirable organisations”. All others are subject to military censorship, RSF notes.

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