The Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders | #mediadev | DW | 11.02.2015
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The Press Freedom Index by Reporters Without Borders

The Press Freedom Index is a global annual ranking covering around 180 countries. It reflects the degree of freedom that journalists, news organizations and netizens enjoy. The first edition was published in 2002.

The Press Freedom Index is an annual global survey covering around 180 countries which ranks the degree of freedom that journalists, news organizations and netizens enjoy. The first edition was published in 2002.

The Press Freedom Index is compiled and published by Reporters Without Borders (RWB), a Paris-based NGO that promotes freedom of expression and information by supporting journalists around the globe. It consists of a network of correspondents in 130 countries as well as 10 international bureaus. RWB was founded in France 1985 and registered as a non-profit organization there ten years later.

The NGO receives money from the French government, e.g. via the French Development Agency. However, RWB stresses that only 20 percent of its income comes from public institutions.

What is Reporters Without Borders' approach?

Reporters Without Borders ranks the countries in its Press Freedom Index on a range of 0 to 100, with 0 being the best possible score and 100 being the worst.

Karte Pressefreiheit Weltweit 2015 ENG

Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Map 2015

Each country’s score is calculated on the basis of a survey carried out there. It is based on RWB's own monitoring of violence against journalists as well as on a comprehensive questionnaire that covers six criteria: pluralism, media independence, environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency and infrastructure.

Based on the score, the NGO attributes a category to each country: "Good Situation", "Satisfactory Situation", "Noticeable Problems", "Difficult Situation" or "Very Serious Situation".

RWB stresses that its survey is qualitative and not representative. 

How is the Press Freedom Index compiled?

The survey, a questionnaire of 87 questions, is sent to RWB’s network of correspondents as well as to journalists, researchers, legal experts and human-rights activists.

All respondents live in the country they evaluate, although around ten percent of them are foreign correspondents with a different country of origin. The number of completed questionnaires differs from country to country, ranging from between one and five in some African countries to around 20 respondents in Germany or 50 in France).


For more information, see Reporters Without Borders' web page. For a more detailed analysis of the index, its methodology, its strengths and weaknesses, and how it compares with other indices, see DW Akademie guidebook "Media Freedom Indices - What they tell us and what they don't". More links are provided in the Media Freedom Navigator resources section.

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