14 February 2014

Something has stimulated greater pessimism in the measure of Press Freedom in New Zealand than in 2013. Is it an establishment reaction to Dotcom challenges?

What otherwise has occurred in New Zealand over the last twelve months that would detract from the perception that we have an effective and unconstrained media?

The Reporters without Borders annual World Press Freedom Index has downgraded New Zealand, placing it 9th, one position lower than 2013.  New Zealand remains among Scandinavian and Scandinavian–like countries that make up the top ten places –  flanked by Iceland and Sweden.

The pecking order at the top of the Index is largely unchanged from 2013 although the assessment methodology has changed substantially.  The new methodology has resulted in the United States –“land of the free” – slipping 13 places to 46th (while Samoa is 40th and Papua New Guinea is 44th).

The Index reflects seven criteria:

  • level of abuses
  • extent of pluralism
  • media independence
  • environment and self-censorship
  • legislative framework
  • transparency and
  • infrastructure.

A characteristic identified in a number of developed states is that national security pressures are seen to be undermining the right to inform and be informed.

The 2013 Transparency International report on New Zealand National Integrity Systems – the Integrity Plus report – reported that the independence of the New Zealand media and its activities in informing the public about government activities and cases of corruption and maladministration are extremely valuable in the national Integrity System context.

Transparency International noted that to sustain this level of benefit, more monitoring and oversight of the integrity of the media is needed, whether by self-regulation or public agencies.


Press Freedom Index 2014

1          Finland

2          Netherlands

3          Norway

4          Luxembourg

5          Andorra

6          Liechtenstein

7          Denmark

8          Iceland

9          New Zealand

10        Sweden

(Australia 28th, United Kingdom 33rd, United States 46th)