Reporters Without Borders recently (2002/10/23) published their first worldwide Press Freedom Index. The top twenty countries in descending order (most to least "free") are:

1. Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Netherlands
5. Canada
6. Ireland
7. Germany, Portugal, Sweden
10. Denmark
11. France
12. Australia, Belgium
14. Slovenia
15. Costa Rica, Switzerland
17. United States
18. Hong Kong
19. Greece
20. Ecuador
The ranking is based on the results of a list of 50 questions sent to journalists, researchers and legal experts. The questions dealt with a wide range of freedom of the press related issues including threats and attacks (official and unofficial) to journalists, protection afforded to threatened journalists (including direct protection and in the form of combating those making the threats or attacks), state monopolies in various areas, and censorship.

The top four countries Finland, Iceland, Norway and the Netherlands, are given high praise for being particularily scrupulous in both respecting freedom of the press in their countries and in supporting it elsewhere. The U.S. ranks lower than some might expect primarily because of the number of journalists arrested or imprisoned for refusing to reveal their sources and as a result of some of the fallout from September 11th.

The ten countries at the bottom of the list are:

130. Iraq
131. Vietnam
132. Eritrea
133. Laos
134. Cuba
135. Bhutan
136. Turkmenistan
137. Burma
138. China
139. North Korea


An article which includes the entire list of countries in the index and describes some of the rationale behind the rankings at (last accessed 2002/10/23)