Press Freedom in Western Balkans: Thunderous Silence

on May 16, 14 • by

The countries of Western Balkans are all ranked in the group of “partially free” countries in the latest Freedom of the Press 2014 report, published by Freedom House...
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The countries of Western Balkans are all ranked in the group of “partially free” countries in the latest Freedom of the Press 2014 report, published by Freedom House. The best ranked, with a score of 10 out of possible 100 (the higher the score, the lesser the press freedom in a country) are Sweden, Norway and the Netherlands. At the bottom of the list are Belarus (score of 93), Eritrea (94), Uzbekistan (95), Turkmenistan (95) and North Korea (97).
In the Western Balkans, Serbia is best ranked in 74th place (score of 37), followed by Montenegro in 78th (39), Croatia in 83rd (40), Kosovo and Albania share the 98th place (score of 49 each), and lowest ranked are Bosnia and Herzegovina in 103rd place (50) and Macedonia in 122nd place (57) which continues the long decline in all similar rankings of press freedoms in the world. 
Montenegro is the only country in the region that was mentioned individually in the report, due to the registered decline of its score from 36 to 39, as a result of hostile official rhetoric against the press and impunity for attacks, which included bombs targeting journalists and news outlets. 
“Prime Minister Milo Đukanović stepped up efforts to steer funds away from outlets that are critical of his government, particularly Vijesti”, states the Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press Report. 
The Freedom of the Press 2014 notes global decline in press freedoms that reached the lowest leves in the last decade. The decline was driven in part by major regression in several Middle Eastern states; marked setbacks in Turkey, Ukraine, and a number of countries in East Africa; and deterioration in the relatively open media environment of the United States.

The share of the world’s population with media rated “Free” remains at just 14 percent, or only one in seven people. Far larger shares live in “Not Free” (44 percent) or “Partly Free” (42 percent) media environments.

“We see declines in media freedom on a global level, driven by governments’ efforts to control the message and punish the messenger. In every region of the world last year, we found both governments and private actors attacking reporters, blocking their physical access to newsworthy events, censoring content, and ordering politically motivated firings of journalists”, said Karin Karlekar, project director of the report.
In addition to attacks on the messenger, the main negative trends noted in the Freedom of the Press 2014 reports are attempts to establish control over the new media (online social networks, microblogS, mobile phones); control of contents through control of ownership of media; and targeted attacks on foreign media and journalists reporting from individual countries. 
The full Freedom of the Press 2014 report, traditionally released in the week before May 3 – the World Press Freedom Day, is available on the website of Freedom House.

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