Africa has been ranked higher that the Americas — North and south America combined — in the 2016 World Press Freedom Index published on April 20 by Reporters without Borders (RSF).
The World Press Freedom Index reflects the intensity of the attacks on journalistic freedom and independence by governments, ideologies and private-sector interests during a particular year.
The ranking showed that Europe has the freest media, scoring 19.8 points, and Africa as the second most freest continent with 36.9 points, while Americas was third with 37.1 points.
This is the first time Africa has ever been higher than America on the index since it was first published in 2002.
While there are still serious violation of press freedom in some African countries, like Sudan and Somalia, Morning News USA said increased violence and hostility against journalists in the Americas over the past year contributed to the drop in ranking.
The Index, which ranks 180 countries according to the freedom allowed journalists, showed that three north European countries head the rankings. Finland, Netherland and Norway took the first three positions.
The countries that rose most in the index include Tunisia, up 30 places to 96th, thanks to a decline in violence and legal proceedings, and Ukraine, up 22 places to 107th, where the conflict in the east of the country abated.
Countries likes Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea occupied the lowest rankings, and are considered the least free for journalists.
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The U.S. improved to the 41st position, from 49th the previous year, but RSF cited restricted access for journalists to candidates ahead of the presidential election as the main area of concern.
Another problematic concern in the U.S. was the arrests of journalists made during the Black Lives Matter protests in Baltimore and Minneapolis.
Overall, RSF said world press freedom deteriorated in 2015 as world leaders “developing a form of paranoia about legitimate journalism”. This has affected the quality of journalism across the globe.
“All of the indicators show a deterioration. Numerous authorities are trying to regain control of their countries, fearing overly open public debate,” said Christophe Deloire, secretary general of the Paris-based RSF, Gulf News reported.
“Today, it is increasingly easy for powers to appeal directly to the public through new technologies, and so there is a greater degree of violence against those who represent independent information,” he added.
“We are entering a new era of propaganda where new technologies allow the low-cost dissemination of their own communication, their information, as dictated. On the other side, journalists are the ones who get in the way.”