The 2024 RSW Press Freedom Index.  Italy is really so back all major UE country?

Questo articolo è disponibile anche in: Italian

Ossigeno criticisms  on a rankings of individual countries based on opinion polls and unverifiable assessments instead of collections of news

OSSIGENO 7th  May 2024 – Every year the Paris-based organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF) classifies individual countries in the world based on the respect each of them has for press freedom. At the top of the list it indicates the countries it considers most virtuous and, following that, those with more things requiring forgiveness. As has been the case for many years, this year Italy again appears further behind many other European Union countries.

Compared to last year, Italy drops five positions, placing itself in 46th place out of 180 ranked countries. It is followed closely by Poland, Croatia, Romania, and at a distance by Bulgaria (59), Hungary (67), Malta (73), Greece (88). Italy appears as the black sheep of the flock formed by the founding nucleus of the European Union.

Few In Italy have reported on this new ranking. Why? Simply, it appears to us, because this ranking is considered not very credible, as experts in the field know well, who consider justifiable only the part that concerns authoritarian, dictatorial countries in serious crisis.

In those countries, those who openly collect information on violations of press freedom risk prison or even their life. Therefore, to know what the situation is in those countries, observers must secretly collect opinions and make an assessment.

What makes the RSF rankings questionable and not very credible is the fact that the compilers use the same method (the collection of confidential opinions) both to evaluate authoritarian countries such as China and Russia, and Italy, a country in which the rule of law applies and, albeit with difficulty and at some cost, detailed information on violations of press freedom can be openly collected.

And this is what Ossigeno per l’Informazione has been doing since 2006, with monitoring that in Italy has made it possible to collect and publish detailed information on 7,172 violations of press freedom, with rigorous, methodical and objective monitoring (see here).

If the same monitoring were applied in other European countries, one could truly identify which countries are the most virtuous and which is the black sheep, who has more violations and who has fewer. Extending Ossigeno’s objective method of monitoring to all EU countries is what both the Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe and the Media division of UNESCO have long proposed.

Ossigeno has long explained its reservations about the RSF method (read here). It has  explained that rankings based on surveys of opinion provide inaccurate and sometimes erroneous maps besides  devaluing good practices for overcoming these problematic analyses.

Ossigeno has made its criticisms known to RSF after examining the issue and asking for explanations. The compilers of the ranking listened but continued as before. That is, with their opinion surveys, based on what the interviewees perceive and communicate to them confidentially, and re-elaborating their attitudes, unaware that the rankings are based on these elaborations. This method is not transparent, it is not verifiable and it is certainly not rigorous methodologically. It does not help those who really want to defend press freedom in their country. ASP


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