Fri, Apr 19, 2019 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan still 42nd freest nation for press

Staff writer, with CNA

Reporters Without Borders East-Asia Bureau director Cedric Alviani, third left, holds the World Press Freedom Index map at a news conference in Hong Kong yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Taiwan’s press freedom ranking remained the same as last year at 42nd, but lost its title as best in Asia to South Korea, according to this year’s World Press Freedom Index released on Tuesday and updated yesterday by the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

Among the 180 nations and territories evaluated by RSF, Taiwan ranked higher than Japan, which remained at 67th; Hong Kong, which fell three places to 73rd; and the Philippines, which fell one place to 134th.

South Korea last year jumped 20 places to 43rd and rose two more places this year.

RSF attributed the improvement to the election of South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who has brought “a breath of fresh air after a bad decade in which South Korea fell more than 30 places.”

The Moon administration ended a decade-old conflict at public broadcasters Korean Broadcasting System and Munhwa Broadcasting Corp, where “journalists objected to having bosses foisted on them by the government,” RSF said.

However, even though President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has said that she wants to continue developing press freedom, “few concrete measures have been taken to improve journalists’ editorial independence and encourage the media to raise the quality of public debate,” it said.

While the state of journalism in Taiwan is “satisfactory,” similar to that in most developed nations, its journalists suffer from a “very polarized media environment dominated by sensationalism and the pursuit of profit,” making independent journalism “extremely difficult,” RSF said.

China, which is suspected of “orchestrating online disinformation campaigns” in Taiwan, is “exploiting this weakness by putting pressure on Taiwanese media owners, who often have business interests” in China, RSF said.

Norway topped the list for the third year running, while Finland captured second place from Sweden, which has seen an increase in cyberharassment.

The US dropped three spots from a year earlier to 48th. The five nations at the bottom of the list are Vietnam, China, Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan, in that order.

Published annually by RSF since 2002, the index assesses pluralism levels, media independence, environment and self-censorship, legal frameworks, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports production of news and information. It does not evaluate government policy.

The scores measure constraints and violations in each country, so the higher the score, the worse the situation.

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