The 2023 World Press Freedom Index, published on 3 May 2023 by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), shows worrying signs for the state of media freedom globally. Out of 180 countries surveyed, RSF found that “the environment for journalism is bad in seven out of ten countries, and satisfactory in only three out of ten.”
The UN General Assembly has recognised 3 May as World Press Freedom Day to raise awareness of press freedom, support independent journalism, and honour journalists who have risked or lost their lives in pursuit of truth.
The World Press Freedom Index ranks countries’ press freedom, using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods, and paying particular attention to five indicators: the country’s political context, legal framework, economic context, sociocultural context, and safety.
The 2023 Index drew particular attention to the challenges of state propaganda and disinformation, which it said were being exacerbated by the surge of generative AI. Respondents in two-thirds of countries surveyed for the Index reported that political actors in their countries were involved in disinformation or propaganda campaigns.
Yet the Index showed some signs of progress in the region of Southern Africa, as ten countries in the region improved their rankings compared to the 2022 index. These are South Africa, Mauritius, Botswana, Lesotho, Comoros, Zambia, Mozambique, Eswatini, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zimbabwe. Meanwhile, Namibia, the Seychelles, Malawi, Madagascar, Angola, and Tanzania moved down the rankings.
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