Press freedom experiences ‘dramatic deterioration’ during Covid pandemic – RSF report

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has warned in its annual report that press freedom has experienced a “dramatic deterioration” during the pandemic, with some nations using Covid to justify limiting the activities of journalists.

Examining the situation throughout the past year, the group laid out how journalists, particularly in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, have found it harder to investigate and report on stories due to countries limiting access through Covid restrictions.

Following the attitude of nations throughout the pandemic, the RSF identified that the virus “has been used as grounds to block journalists’ access to information sources and reporting in the field,” reducing their ability to independently verify stories.

The RSF found in its 2021 press freedom index that 73% of the 180 countries evaluated “blocked or seriously impeded” the work of journalists at a time when, the group argues, the public need the media to serve as “the best vaccine against the virus of disinformation.”

The Index data reflect a dramatic deterioration in people’s access to information and an increase in obstacles to news coverage.

The group highlights how impeding the work of journalists can seriously damage the public’s trust of media organizations. This is reflected in the 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer, which showed 59% of respondents in 28 countries believe reporters intentionally publish false information to mislead the public.

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Established in 1985 and based in France, RSF claims to work to promote and defend press freedom, describing it as a human right that must be protected. Each year, the organization releases an annual world press freedom index, measuring the level of press freedom in 180 countries around the world.

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