Less than 15 percent of the world’s population lives in a country with a full free press — the lowest level in more than a decade, according to Freedom House’s new report, Freedom of the Press 2012, released Tuesday, May 1. The global press freedom rankings were released to coincide with the May 3 celebration of World Press Freedom Day.
In general, the report found that, for the first time in eight years, worldwide media freedom did not decline overall. Still, of the 197 countries and territories examined, only 33.5 percent (66) were rated as “free.” The number of “partly free” countries increased to 72 (36.5 percent), and 59 (30 percent) were rated “not free.” Most of the world’s population (45 percent) lives in a country with a “partly free” press, the report showed. The rankings are based on the level of freedom in three categories: legal, political, and economic.
While the rest of the world saw no real decline in press freedom — and even improved in the Arab world — in the Americas, press freedom deteriorated in 2011, the report said. Both Chile and Guyana moved from “free” to “partly free,” and Ecuador’s overall numeric score declined significantly. Press freedom remained restricted in Venezuela and Cuba, and extreme danger for journalists in Mexico also hurt that country’s press freedom scores — both Mexico and Honduras remained listed as “not free” (see these Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas maps on press attacks in Mexico and Central America) While the United States continues to have one of the freer presses in the region, it, too, saw a slight decline because of arrests and harassment of journalists covering the Occupy movement.
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