Cause sans method

To be credible Reporters Sans Frontières’ Press Freedom Index must improve its methodology

India’s place in RSF’s annual press freedom rankings has dropped from 80th in 2002 to 106th in 2006. As one commentator on the SAJA blog points out, this suggests that the press did better under previous government led by those ‘Hindu nationalists’ than by the current ‘secular, liberal’ one. But even considering the assaults on the freedom of expression that the UPA government has presided over under various grand-sounding pretexts, twenty points is a sharp fall. There’s another possibility—other countries could have improved their scores. Such a wave of international press freedom, however, is hardly discernable.

Hong Kong, UAE, Timor-Leste, Malaysia and Bhutan are just some of the countries that, according to the index, have much greater press freedom than India.

But I had a good laugh that the United States or Japan, for example, have less freedom compared to Bolivia, Benin, Bosnia-Hrezegovina(sic) — or for that matter Austria or Germany (which have rather explicit censorship laws)! [SAJA Forums]

RSF’s attempts to highlight the importance of the freedom of press, and indeed the lack of it in several countries, loses credibility if it fails the common sense test. Publishing an index with a flawed methodology does a disservice to the very cause RSF seeks to promote.

Related Link: Several microphones but no mention on the news — see this post at The Glasshouse

7 thoughts on “Cause sans method”

  1. The NDA govt started haunting the Tehelka people from 2001 and after the Guj riots press was under severe pressure from NDA and the Guj vernacular press virtually became BJP mouthpiece. All these took its toll and no wonder we are at 106 which is actually an improvement from 107.

  2. RS, don’t try to find justification for these silly rakings. They are pretty bogus.

    I looked at SAJA – pretty definited comments on garbage generated from Euro (one guy, a Doctor(!), actually supporting it – apparently never took a statistics class). I can imagine the screaming at SAJA if this kinda survey was done in India about relative press freedom with similar results.

  3. Nitin, yes I did (The guy is known for common sense whether global trade or political reform).

    RS, the reason rankings are silly is because they are based false (or rather silly) facts. If facts were accurate the rankings would be more or less accurate.

  4. Cofused,
    The haunting started in 2001 and continued till 2004 when the NDA kicked the bucket. One will also have to look at the small publications and the vernacular press where they survive mostly with govt advert handouts. So press freedom among these publications will not be as much as it is among big mainstream publications.

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