Press freedom in Taiwan ‘satisfactory’, says RSF

Hong Kong’s latest ranking showed “one of the biggest drops in our index in the last 20 years,” said Cedric Alviani of Reporters Without Borders.

Although Taiwan moved up five places to 38th in the World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) yesterday, the organization said more needed to be done to tackle a working environment “ toxic” for journalists.

Taiwan’s ranking places it fourth in the Asia-Pacific region, behind New Zealand (11th), East Timor (17th) and Bhutan (33rd), but ahead of Australia (39th) and South Korea. South (43rd).

Taiwan was among 40 countries listed in the index as having a “satisfactory” media environment.

Photo: AFP

The top three spots in the index went to Norway, Denmark and Sweden in that order, with the three Nordic countries considered to have a “good” media environment.

Commenting on the latest index, Cédric Alviani, head of RSF’s East Asia desk, said Taiwan’s change in ranking did not reflect the nation’s improvement, but rather was the result of a modified way of compiling the index.

“Taiwan’s five ranks up this year do not reflect any significant improvement in terms of press freedom,” Alviani told the Central News Agency in a telephone interview yesterday. “So the move is purely due to the new system we used to create the index.”

This change in criteria has allowed the index to better reflect the current state of press freedom in each country, Alviani said.

While Taiwan has a favorable ranking, its press freedom record has been “impaired” by “serious problems”, he said.

The political polarization and sensationalist approach Taiwanese media take to reporting certain news is a “barrier” to obtaining factual and objective information from the public, Alviani added.

Over the past year, RSF has repeatedly called on the government to take steps to address these issues, such as providing serious funding to public broadcasters without compromising their editorial independence, he said.

He also said the working environment for journalists was “quite toxic” and that such a situation continued to impact press freedom in Taiwan.

Many young journalists changed jobs after a few years on the job because they were underpaid and overworked, and because it was not possible for them to do quality reporting as they were supposed to, said Alviani, citing RSF’s past interviews and discussions with Taiwanese. journalists.

In East Asia, the press freedom situation is “getting worse”, he said.

In particular, Hong Kong’s ranking showed “one of the biggest drops in our index in the past 20 years,” Alviani said.

Hong Kong ranked 148th in this year’s index, falling 68 places from 80th in the previous ranking.

“One might fear that in a few years, let’s say before the end of the mandate [of the Sino-British Joint Declaration]press freedom in Hong Kong would not be better than press freedom in the rest of the country,” he said, referring to China, which finished in 175th place in the ranking.

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