October 26, 2006Public Policy

Cause sans method

To be credible Reporters Sans Frontières’ Press Freedom Index must improve its methodology

This is an archived blog post from The Acorn.

India’s place in RSFs annual press freedom rankings has dropped from 80th in 2002 to 106th in 2006. As one commentator on the SAJA blog points out, this suggests that the press did better under previous government led by those Hindu nationalists’ than by the current secular, liberal’ one. But even considering the assaults on the freedom of expression that the UPA government has presided over under various grand-sounding pretexts, twenty points is a sharp fall. There’s another possibility—other countries could have improved their scores. Such a wave of international press freedom, however, is hardly discernable.

Hong Kong, UAE, Timor-Leste, Malaysia and Bhutan are just some of the countries that, according to the index, have much greater press freedom than India.

But I had a good laugh that the United States or Japan, for example, have less freedom compared to Bolivia, Benin, Bosnia-Hrezegovina(sic) — or for that matter Austria or Germany (which have rather explicit censorship laws)! [SAJA Forums]

RSFs attempts to highlight the importance of the freedom of press, and indeed the lack of it in several countries, loses credibility if it fails the common sense test. Publishing an index with a flawed methodology does a disservice to the very cause RSF seeks to promote.

Related Link: Several microphones but no mention on the news — see this post at The Glasshouse

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