North Korea has held on to its position as the second-worst country in the world for press freedoms, according to the latest annual survey by Reporters Without Borders.
The report, published on Wednesday, put North Korea at position 179.
During 2013, the country was singled out for particular criticism by the group for media coverage of the arrest, trial and execution of Jang Song Thaek.
State media went into overdrive during the event, describing Jang’s alleged crimes in detail and denouncing him for them.
At the time, the press freedom group said the coverage was “tantamount to mass intimidation” and that “such an atmosphere of terror will weigh heavily on the little freedom of information remaining in such a closely-watched society.”
North Korea was ranked one place above Eritrea. The two countries have been in those two positions since 2007. Prior to that, North Korea was ranked last from 2002 to 2006.
Countries are ranked according to six criteria:
- Pluralism – the degree to which differing views are represented by the media
- Independance – the degree to which media can function independant of the authorities
- Environment and self-censorship – the environment in which journalists work
- Legislative framework – the quality of the framework around journalism and its efficiency
- Transparency – The transparency of the institutions and procedures that affect the production of news and information
- Infrastructure the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news andinformation
Based on North Korea’s concentration of all media inside the government and the absolute and complete control of the state over its common output, it’s perhaps not surprising that the country scored so badly.
South Korea was ranked 57th on the survey. While much more free than its northern neighbor, South Korea was criticized for actions it took against two journalists for comments made in a podcast about President Park Geun-hye’s brother and father.
This website is a mine of information so I’ve mentioned it in a short ‘guide to action’ on North Korea written in response to a recent Comment in the Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/feb/18/north-korea-good-time-to-be-dictator
The ‘guide to action’ aims to encourage responsible papers to produce similar guides for citizens alongside their news and commentary. My hope is that this will enable a few more people to take action and help shorten the agony of North Korea.
I would be grateful for your comments on the draft guide at: http://www.democracymatters.org.uk/take-action-on-north-korea/ –
• Is this sound advice?
• Do you think news media could help by providing citizens’ guides to action along these lines?
• Do you know any journalists / news outlets who would publish factual guides to action along these lines?
Please don’t hesitate to correct any mistakes or suggest other small steps people can take.