After I submitted this story to The Reykjavik Grapevine, an English language newspaper in Iceland, this is the dialogue that followed once the story was posted to Facebook with the header: "Does this ring true?"
Iceland is among the top countries that apparently respects freedom of the press, according to Reporters Without Borders press freedom index published today (see map below).
In fact, over the past decade, Iceland has consistently ranked high (top ten) on the RWB Freedom of the Press Index, a measurement tool published since 2002. The index has placed Iceland in the top spot eight times (often tied with Finland, Norway, the Netherlands and Denmark). In 2009, Iceland moved down to ninth and then in 2010, moved back up to number one in a tie with several other countries – this time along with the inclusion of Sweden and Ireland.
Despite the slight up and down shifts, Iceland has consistently been among those countries that report a high degree of freedom for journalists and news media.
From today’s RWB press release: “This year’s index finds the same group of countries at its head, countries such as Finland, Norway and Netherlands that respect basic freedoms. This serves as a reminder that media independence can only be maintained in strong democracies and that democracy needs media freedom.”
At the other end of the index, RWB ranked the following: Eritrea (179), N. Korea (178), Turkmenistan (177), Syria (176) and Iran (175).
Here’s an explanation of how RWB compiles its rankings: <http://en.rsf.org/IMG/pdf/how_the_2011-2012_index_was_compiled.pdf>
As I embarked on my six-week reporting assignment in Iceland, many of you asked:
why would an American journalist venture to Reykjavik to study freedom of the press?
A brief explanation...
Press freedom: what does it mean exactly?
As the Washington State Bureau Correspondent for Reporters Without Borders, a volunteer position I took on in 2010, I monitor freedom of the press issues, helping to protect the rights of journalists. My role is to keep an eye on censorship in Washington state and report my findings to the RWB-USA headquarters in Wash., DC.
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