From Freedom House:
In democracies and authoritarian states alike, leaders intent on consolidating power are finding new ways to repress independent journalism, a report released today by Freedom House finds.
The Chinese Communist Party has rapidly expanded its influence over media production and dissemination channels abroad. Beijing influences news coverage around the world by suppressing critical viewpoints and managing important content delivery systems.
Freedom House’s new report, Freedom and the Media 2019, notes the global impact of rhetorical attacks against the media by President Donald Trump. Journalists around the world now have less reason to believe that Washington will come to their aid if their basic rights are violated.
Although US legal protections for media freedom remain strong, President Trump’s continual vilification of the press has seriously exacerbated an ongoing erosion of public confidence in mainstream outlets. Among other steps, the president has repeatedly threatened to strengthen libel laws, revoke the licenses of certain broadcasters, and damage media owners’ other business interests.
The report also highlights the positive relationship between strengthening media freedoms and democratic progress in countries including Ethiopia, Malaysia, Ecuador, and The Gambia.
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- Freedom of the media has been deteriorating around the world over the past decade.
- In some of the most influential democracies in the world, populist leaders have overseen concerted attempts to throttle the independence of the media sector.
- While the threats to global media freedom are real and concerning in their own right, their impact on the state of democracy is what makes them truly dangerous.
- Experience has shown, however, that press freedom can rebound from even lengthy stints of repression when given the opportunity. The basic desire for democratic liberties, including access to honest and fact-based journalism, can never be extinguished.