Written by Bertrand Seah

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has released its 2018 update of its Press Freedom Index. Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands fill up the top 3, while North Korea remains bottom. In between, the US continued its decline dropping two places to fall at 45, and Singapore retains its ranking of 151.

Besides the rankings, there has been an overall increase in attacks on press freedom. A rising trend has been “fake news”: not the phenomena of false news stories per se, but the branding by authoritarian leaders of unfavourable coverage as fake news. This started with Trump, but has since been used by leaders in Turkey, Cambodia and the Philippines, and even the Select Committee in Singapore has given hints that it might do likewise. While it is common for leaders in poorly-ranked countries to denounce such rankings, it is still worth bearing in mind, as RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire points out, that “the unleashing of hatred towards journalists is one of the worst threats to democracies.”

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