Freedom of information is “repeatedly and blatantly flouted” in Greece, pushing the country into 99th place out of 180 countries in this year’s World Press Freedom Index.
The remarkable fall in press freedom, which represents an astonishing drop of 80 places since 2002, is a “dizzying fall for the world’s oldest democracy”, said Reporters
Without Borders, which authored the report.
Although closely challenged by Greece, Bulgaria – in 100th place – retains the status of lowest ranked European Union country after a trying year marked by five months of major protests and political tension.
“Suffering from the effects of the economic crisis and a surge in populism, Greece (99th) fell 14 places” on last year, the report, published on Wednesday, said.
The report said that apart from economic difficulties – it refers to the rising unemployment among journalists – “the Greek media have a bad reputation that is the result of
years of clientelism”.
Referring to the shutdown by the New Democracy-Pasok government of the country’s national broadcaster ERT in June, the report described this as “a turning point in
Greece’s media history”, one that also represented “an unprecedented decision in a European Union country”.
Published by Reporters Without Borders, the World Press Freedom Index 2014 highlights major declines in media freedom in such varied countries as the United States, Central African Republic and Guatemala and, on the other hand, marked improvements in Ecuador, Bolivia and South Africa.
The same trio of Finland, Netherlands and Norway heads the index again, while Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea continue to be the biggest information black holes, again occupying the last three positions.
“The World Press Freedom Index is a reference tool that is based on seven criteria: the level of abuses, the extent of pluralism, media independence, the environment and
self-censorship, the legislative framework, transparency and infrastructure,” said Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire.