May 9, 2008
SVG ranked third in the Americas for Press Freedom


St. Vincent and the Grenadines ranks third in the Americas for Press Freedom, according to a 2008 report from the New York based organization Freedom House.{{more}}

The survey of 195 countries and territories around the world placed St. Vincent and the Grenadines 21st in the world, tying with the United States and just ahead of Canada, which came in 25th.

According to Freedom house, the study is based on universal criteria. “We seek to recognize press freedom wherever it exists, in poor and rich countries, as well as in countries of various ethnic, religious, and cultural backgrounds.”

The report gave as sources of information: correspondents overseas, staff travel, international visitors, the findings of human rights and press freedom organizations, specialists in geographic and geopolitical areas, the reports of governments and multilateral bodies, and a variety of domestic and international news media.

In explaining the methodology, the report said, “Our examination of the level of press freedom in each country is divided into three broad categories: the legal environment, the political environment, and the economic environment. The legal environment encompasses both an examination of the laws and regulations that could influence media content as well as the government’s inclination to use these laws and legal institutions in order to restrict the media’s ability to operate. We assess the positive impact of legal and constitutional guarantees for freedom of expression; the potentially negative aspects of security legislation, the penal code and other criminal statutes; penalties for libel and defamation; the existence of and ability to use Freedom of Information legislation; the independence of the judiciary and of official media regulatory bodies; registration requirements for both media outlets and journalists; and the ability of journalists’ groups to operate freely.

“Under the category of political environment, we evaluate the degree of political control over the content of news media. Issues examined in this category include the editorial independence of both the state-owned and privately-owned media; access to information and sources; official censorship and self-censorship; the vibrancy of the media; the ability of both foreign and local reporters to cover the news freely and without harassment; and the intimidation of journalists by the state or other actors, including arbitrary detention and imprisonment, violent assaults, and other threats.

“Our third category examines the economic environment for the media. This includes the structure of media ownership; transparency and concentration of ownership; the costs of establishing media as well as of production and distribution; the selective withholding of advertising or subsidies by the state or other actors; the impact of corruption and bribery on content; and the extent to which the economic situation in a country impacts the development of the media.

Finland and Iceland tied for first worldwide, while Jamaica ranked first for the Americas, with St. Lucia taking second place.

Venezuela and Cuba came in at the bottom of the ranking for the Americas taking up the 34th and 35th position, respectively, while North Korea ranked last in the world.