World Press Freedom Day 2019

May 3, 2019 Weekly Graphs

May 3rd is World Press Freedom Day. This annual event celebrates freedom and serves to highlight the varying degrees of media freedom across the globe. It also serves as an occasion to honor those who have died in the name of press freedom and to raise awareness on the repression that the media continues to face today. This year’s theme is “Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation’’.

One of the main topics of this year’s celebration is the media’s role in elections and the obstacles it faces in reporting on them. The media plays a central role in informing voters about candidates, parties and their policies. It also acts as a check on potential government abuse by assessing the credibility and transparency of the election process. Elections can be a dangerous time for journalists due to heightened risk of assault or arrest during high stakes political events like elections. One such example occurred during the 2018 elections in Bangladesh where two journalists were arrested for reporting on electoral irregularities and now face up to 14 years in jail under a controversial law. 

V-Dem’s Interactive Map Tool, allows us to visualize data by creating a color-coded map that illustrates the distribution of scores for the V-Dem freedom of expression index.  The indicator shows the extent to which governments respect press and media freedom.  It is scaled from 0 (low levels of press and media freedom) to 1 (high levels).  This map shows the highest level of media and press freedom in Australia, Europe and North America, while levels are lowest in Africa and Asia.

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