How well is the Jamaican Government doing?

Today, May 3, and every year, World Press Freedom Day stands as a reminder to governments of the need to respect their commitment to press freedom and is also a day of reflection among media professionals about issues of press freedom and professional ethics.

Just as importantly, World Press Freedom Day, which is sponsored by UNESCO, is a day of support for media which are targets for the restraint, or abolition, of press freedom. It is also a day of remembrance for those journalists who lost their lives in the pursuit of a story.

Journalism watchdog Reporters Without Borders publishes a world press freedom index measuring how countries are doing. It is based on the answers by journalists and media activists across the globe to a questionnaire, a model of which follows.

The questionnaire gives a clear idea why Jamaica ranks so highly on the index every year, usually in the top 10, and sometimes beating out countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, France, Brazil and Mexico.

Journalists and readers are invited to answer the questions and determine if Jamaica is deserving of its lofty placing, and how well the Government is doing. Share your finding at allend@jamaicaobserver.com:

Questionnaire for drawing up a world press freedom index (using the period May 3, 2020 – May 2, 2021)

1. How many journalists were murdered?

2. How many journalists were murdered, with the State involved?

3. How many journalists were arrested or sent to prison (for whatever length of time)?

4. How many journalists are currently in jail and serving a heavy sentence (more than a year) for a media offence?

5. How many journalists were threatened?

6. How many journalists were physically attacked or injured?

7. How many journalists fled the country?

8. Are there any journalists who have been illegally imprisoned (no arrest warrant, in violation of maximum period of detention without trial or court appearance)? (yes/no)

9. Are there any journalists who have been tortured or ill-treated? (yes/no)

10. Are there any journalists who have been kidnapped or taken hostage? (yes/no)

11. Are there any journalists who have been disappeared? (yes/no)

Over the period, has/have there been:

12. armed militias or secret organisations regularly targeting journalists? (yes/no)

13. physical attacks on journalists or media companies? (yes/no)

14. improper use of fines or bond-posting against media outlets or journalists? (yes/no)

15. improper use of legal action or summonses against journalists? (yes/no)

16. failure to prosecute those violating press freedom? (yes/no)

17. prison terms stipulated by law for media offences? (yes/no)

18. attacks on or threats against families or friends of journalists? (yes/no)

19. surveillance of local journalists (phone-tapping, being followed)? (yes/no)

20. problems of access to public or official information (refusal by officials, selection of information provided according to the media’s editorial line or bureaucratic obstacles)? (yes/no)

21. restricted physical or reporting access to any regions of the country (lawlessness, official ban)? (yes/no)

22. media outlets censored (how many?)

23. seizure or destruction of copies of newspapers or equipment? (yes/no)

24. searches of media offices or homes of journalists? (yes/no)

25. surveillance of foreign journalists working in the country? (yes/no)

26. foreign journalists deported? (yes/no)

27. problems getting journalist visas (undue delay, demand to know names of people to be interviewed)? (yes/no)

28. censorship or seizure of foreign newspapers? (yes/no)

29. jamming of foreign radio or TV reception or regulating who has satellite dishes? (yes/no)

30. presence of elected media representatives on press regulatory bodies (broadcasting authority, national press or communications council) (yes/no)

31. independent or Opposition news media? (yes/no)

32. an official censorship body? (yes/no)

33. widespread self-censorship in the state-owned media? (yes/no)

34. widespread self-censorship in the privately-owned media? (yes/no)

35. subjects that are taboo (such as the armed forces, political corruption, religion, the Opposition, demands of separatists, human rights)? (yes/no)

36. a state monopoly of TV? (yes/no)

37. a state monopoly of radio? (yes/no)

38. privately-owned news radio stations, apart from musical or religious ones? (yes/no)

39. a state monopoly of printing facilities? (yes/no)

40. a state monopoly of newspaper distribution? (yes/no)

41. a state monopoly of newsprint supplies? (yes/no)

42. government editorial control of state-owned media? (yes/no)

43. unjustified sackings of journalists in the state-owned media? (yes/no)

44. Opposition access to state-owned media? (yes/no)

45. denigration (routine and unjustified accusations) of privately-owned media by government media? (yes/no)

46. controlled access to journalism (compulsory certificate or training, membership of journalists’ institute or press card required)? (yes/no)

47. use of withdrawal of advertising (government stops buying ad space in some papers or pressures private firms to boycott media outlets)? (yes/no)

48. undue restriction on foreign investment in the media? (yes/no)

49. official permission needed to set up a newspaper or magazine? (yes/no)

50. a state monopoly of Internet service providers (ISPs [Internet service providers])? (yes/no)

51. official permission needed for a subscription to an ISP? (yes/no)

52. shutdowns or blocking of access of Internet sites? (yes/no)

53. cyber-dissidents imprisoned? (yes/no)

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