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Press freedom continues its downward trend across the globe: UN

From  2016  to the end of  2021, 455  journalists were killed for their work or while on the job, according to UNESCO's Freedom of expression and MediaDevelopment Global Report 2021/2022.

Published: 17th March 2022 08:48 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th March 2022 08:48 PM   |  A+A-

Media freedom, press freedom, freedom of press

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By Online Desk

PARIS: Journalism remains a  deadly profession—in nine times out of ten,  the murder of a  journalist is unresolved.  From  2016  to the end of  2021, 455  journalists were killed for their work or while on the job, according to UNESCO's Freedom of expression and MediaDevelopment Global Report 2021/2022.

From 2016 to the end of 2020, Mexico, followed by Afghanistan and the Syrian Arab Republic, recorded the highest number of journalist killings 

Though this shows slight improvement compared to the previous five years, at the same time, just 13 percent of cases recorded by UNESCO since 2006 have been judicially resolved, threatening a continued cycle of violence. 

Other threats against journalists, online and offline, continue to grow. Journalist imprisonment is at record highs,  while online violence and harassment spurs self-censorship and,  in some cases,  physical attacks.  Those threats inordinately affect women journalists and those who represent minority groups:  73  percent of women journalists responding to a  survey by  UNESCO  and the  International  Center for  Journalists had experienced online violence in the course of their work. 

Moreover, women continue to be underrepresented at leadership levels in news organizations and on “hard news” beats like politics, while both qualitative and quantitative studies suggest persistent biases in women’s representation in the news and the marginalization of women as expert sources. During the COVID-19 pandemic, only 27 percent of health specialists quoted in the media were women, despite the fact that women make up approximately half of health specialists worldwide. During the COVID-19 pandemic, only 27 percent of health specialists quoted in the media were women, despite the fact that women make up approximately half of health specialists worldwide

Press freedom continues its downward trend across the globe.  Approximately  85 percent of the world’s population experienced a decline in press freedom in their country over the past five years, according to analysis based on data from the Varieties of  Democracy  (V-Dem)  Institute. 

Measures responding to the  Covid-19  pandemic were also frequently used to justify violations of press freedom. New laws and policies restrict freedom of expression online.  Dozens of laws have been adopted or amended since  2016  that contain overly vague language or disproportionate punishments that threaten online freedom of expression.   Additionally, in the last five years, government requests for content removal on major internet platforms have doubled. 

Audiences and revenue continue to move online, placing news media’s traditional business models in grave danger. The number of social media users worldwide leaped from  2.3  billion in  2016  to  4.2  billion in  2021,  and advertising revenues have shifted rapidly towards internet companies and away from news outlets.  Google and  Meta1now receive approximately half of all global digital advertising spending, while global newspaper advertising revenue dropped by half in the last five years. Progress in closing the gender gap in newsrooms, bylines, and in the news itself has largely stagnated. Women continue to be underrepresented at leadership levels in news organizations and on “hard news” beats like politics, while both qualitative and quantitative studies suggest persistent biases in women’s representation in the news and the marginalization of women as expert sources.



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