This post is also available in: Turkish
This time last year I wrote a blog about freedom of the media in Ukraine reporting on the latest press freedom index released by the international media watchdog Reporters Without Borders. So I was intrigued to see Reporters without Borders publish their 2013 World Press Freedom Index recently.
Since I arrived in Turkey a few months ago, Turkish journalists have often told me that freedom of the press is in danger in Turkey. They have drawn my attention, for example, to the October 2012 report by the Committee to Protect Journalists, “Turkey’s Press Freedom Crisis“.
Conversely, I have read with interest statements by representatives of the Turkish Government that it is unhappy that so many journalists are languishing in prison; and have seen the response by Reporters without Borders to stories in some Turkish newspapers about their recent report.
The 2013 Reporters Without Borders Index puts Turkey in 154th place out of 179 countries, six places down on the previous year. This is an important judgement because Reporters Without Borders is an independent non-governmental organisation (NGO) with no particular axe to grind, which seeks to produce comparable information for as many countries as possible.
You can download a full copy of the 2013 Index, in English or Turkish. You can also see how the position of countries changes over time as far back as 2002.
It is of course open to governments to dispute the findings of independent NGOs. But clearly for a country proud of its democratic traditions and ambitious to be a regional leader, 154th place in an index of this kind is not where you want to be.
I shall read comments by the Turkish authorities on the Reporters Without Borders Index with interest; and look forward to seeing how Turkey performs in next year’s index.