Of the 179 regions surveyed, Hong Kong ranks 58th this year, four places down from last year’s ranking while China placed 173rd in the 2011-2012 Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index.
“Many media paid dearly for their coverage of democratic aspirations or opposition movements. Control of news and information continued to tempt governments and to be a question of survival for totalitarian and repressive regimes,” commented Reporters without Borders.
“The past year also highlighted the leading role played by netizens in producing and disseminating news.”
It added that China has “lost contact with reality and has been sucked into an insane spiral of terror.”
The survey takes account of press freedom violations from 1 December 2010 to 30 November 2011.
The agency prepared a questionnaire with 44 main criteria indicative of the state of press freedom, asking questions involving violations that directly affect journalists and netizens. These range from murder to imprisonment as well as power of news media, like censorship and confiscation of newspaper issues.
The survey also measures the level of self-censorship in each region and the freedom in which media can investigate and criticise; financial pressure and legal framework for media are also assessed.