Washington – April 25, 2018 — Press freedom is facing new threats in major democracies as well as in repressive states, where authorities are focusing their efforts on social media and other online platforms after reducing the independence of major print and broadcast outlets.
“Populist leaders today constitute a new and growing challenge to free expression in open societies, and interference from Russia and China has compounded the threat,” said Michael J. Abramowitz, president of Freedom House. “The assault on press freedom is an attack against a core institution of democracy. Elected leaders who try to discredit factual, critical reporting are undermining democratic accountability and reasoned political debate.”
While journalists face harassment and arrest in a growing number of countries, their work remains crucial in forcing leaders to answer for their abuses. From South Africa to Russia, courageous reporters have defied powerful interests to bring stories to the public, enabling their audiences to take action. “A free press allows citizens to hold their governments to account and, when necessary, to bring about real change,” Abramowitz said.