Reporters sans frontières

Institution

Since its start in 1985, the Paris-based NGO Reporters sans frontières (Reporters Without Borders, RSF) has worked to uncover and deter violations of press freedom around the world. Among its many activities, the organisation produces an index that measures the state of press freedom in the world. The index reflects the degree of freedom journalists and news organisations enjoy in each country, and the efforts made by the state to recognise and ensure respect for this freedom.

Databases

Worldwide Press Freedom Index

Worldwide Press Freedom Index

Website

Reporters sans frontières

Format

PDF, On-screen tables

Timespan

2002-present

Coverage

178 countries

Last reviewed

24/11/11

Data types and sources

Index based on surveys of county experts. The data are collected through a questionnaire sent to members of Reporters sans frontières, partners, researchers and human-rights activists around the world.

Data download

Worldwide Press Freedom Index

Topics

The topic is freedom of the press in countries around the world. Issues that are considered are to what degree journalists in a country are hindered in reporting freely, that is, are not hindered physically (murder, threats etc.), technically (jamming of broadcast) or institutionally (state monopoly, undue restrictions to establish media companies, etc.), by the state or other groupings in the country.

Geographical coverage

The index is global in scope, covering 178 countries (2010). Some countries are left out because of lack of reliable data.

Time coverage and updates

Years covered: 2002-2010. Updated annually.

Documentation

Other than a general list of sources and a checklist of questions the analysts consider when analysing a country’s press freedom, there is no documentation available. The questionnaire is presented on the website. It is not stated how the countries get their score on the index, or what the highest value on the index is.

Access conditions and cost

Available free of charge.

Access procedures

Predefined tables. Data for each year stored in separate tables.

Data formats

On-screen tables. Download available in PDF format.

Comparability and data quality

The data quality has not been examined in detail and some issues should be noted. The documentation of the data is insufficient, making it difficult for external researchers to assess the index. Another drawback is that the scale range is not stated. See J. Becker (2003) and L. Becker, Vlad and Nusser (2007) for evaluations. In addition to these shortcomings, the time span is also quite short. The index is in general of relevance to users interested in measures of press freedom, however due to the limitations listed above, some users may find other indices, such as Freedom House’s Freedom of the Press, more appropriate.

Electronic resources

2010 World Press Freedom Index. 2010 Annual Report.

How the 2010 index was compiled

Questionnaire for the 2010 index

How each country was scored

Literature

Becker, John. 2003. “Keeping track of press freedom”. European Journal of Communication 18 (1): 107-112.

Becker, Lee B., Tudor Vlad and Nancy Nusser. 2007. “An evaluation of press freedom indicators”. International Communication Gazette 69 (1): 5-28.