5 big losers in press freedom: Mali and ... Japan?

The annual World Press Freedom Index released today shows gains for Myanmar and others. Japan tumbled due to an informal ban placed on independent coverage of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster. Here are five of the notable winners and losers on this year’s list.

#176: Syria

Goran Tomasevic/Reuters
A Free Syrian Army fighter fires a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) during heavy fighting in the Ain Tarma neighborhood of Damascus January 30.

The world’s deadliest country for journalists over the last year, Syria saw the killing of at least 17 professional journalists, 44 so-called citizen journalists – amateurs responsible for the regular dissemination of media ­– and 4 media assistants in 2012. Prominent among them for many western observers were American reporter Marie Colvin and French photographer Remi Ochlik, who died in February during the siege of the city of Homs.

The country as a whole has spent years in a near complete media blackout – it ranked 173rd on the list even before its civil war began, in 2010. But the current conflict has made the sources of media oppression more diffuse, putting journalists in danger of being targeted not only by the government but by opposition groups as well.

“Pro [President Bashar Al-]Assad propaganda, the spread of false information, the hacking of email and social networking accounts, phishing etc – a veritable information and disinformation war is being waged in Syria,” RSF wrote.

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