Media polarization is helping tear the world apart, according to Reporters Without Borders. The group says polarization is happening at both the local and international levels. As opinion media sows divisions within countries, despotic regimes with their own tight media controls are waging propaganda wars against democracies—all of which limits freedom of the press.
That’s a key takeaway from the 2022 edition of the World Press Freedom Index, which ranks 180 countries and territories with a score of 0 to 100, with 100 being the highest possible level of press freedom and 0 the lowest.
Reporters Without Borders created the index by tallying the abuses against journalists in each nation or territory and doing a qualitative study of the situation there, based on a survey of press freedom specialists.
Norway ranked highest for press freedom, with a score of 92.65 out of 100. Denmark, Sweden, Estonia, Finland, Ireland, and Portugal followed close behind. The US scored 72.7, down from 76 in 2021.
North Korea received the lowest score, with 13.92. Eritrea, Iran, Turkmenistan, Myanmar, and China also ranked at the low end of the press freedom scale.
Polarization of media is dividing the world
The US is just one democracy that faces growing polarization thanks to outlets such as Fox News. France, too, has seen increased tension fueled by social and opinion media. Suppression of independent media is also on the rise, for example in Poland, where authorities have consolidated their control over public broadcasting.
Media censorship in China and its influence on neighbors like Vietnam, along with the curtailing of liberties in Hong Kong, has seen press freedom plummet in parts of Asia. Meanwhile, restrictions in the Middle East continue.