|Reporters Without Borders has just published its annual World Press Freedom Index ranking |
countries over censorship. Video: Hannah Cleaver/DW
PACIFIC PANDEMIC DIARY: By David Robie
Against a backdrop of many governments using tough controls under cover of fighting the covid-19 coronavirus pandemic to strengthen “creeping authoritarianism”, a global media freedom watchdog has signalled draconian virus reactions as a major threat.
From Papua New Guinea where media briefings have been curtailed with a lockdown of the national information and operations “nerve centre” at Morauta Haus, to Fiji where media personalities have been arrested, to the Philippines where state troll armies “weaponise” disinformation on social media, and to Indonesia where street artists have stepped in fill an information void, the signs are really worrying for defenders for media freedom.
The pandemic is “highlighting and amplifying the many crises”, already casting a shadow on press freedom, says the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders watchdog, which released its annual World Media Freedom Index this week.
READ MORE: The Reporters Without Borders 2020 World Press Freedom Index
While China and Iran have been singled out for strong criticism for suppressing details of the coronavirus outbreak early in the crisis, several countries traditionally strong on media freedom in the Asia-Pacific region have slipped down in the rankings – including Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.