Journalism is Becoming Increasingly Difficult, and Dangerous

Jan, 2023

Introduction

How much do you rely on the mainstream media to stay informed about world events?

How much do you think journalists should be valued and protected?

Vocabulary list 

• Students read each word followed by the definition, focusing on the correct pronunciation.

• The teacher reads the sample sentence and the students repeat, focusing on the correct pronunciation.

• After reading the list, students try to make their own example sentences using the words that are new to them. 

• Students share their example sentences and the teacher gives feedback, correcting errors if necessary.

index (noun)

ˈɪn.deks

a system comparing values of things according to fixed standards

The S&P 500 Index represents approximately 80% of the total value of the U.S. stock market.

 

ranking (noun)

ˈræn.kɪŋ

a position or level in relation to other people, standards or things

Football league rankings can change dramatically during a full season.

 

abuse (noun)

əˈbjuːs

cruel, violent, damaging or unfair treatment

Neglect of residents is considered a form of elder abuse in nursing homes.    

 

outlet (noun)

ˈaʊt.let

an organisation that broadcasts or publishes news and media

More people are turning to independent media outlets for unbiased news reporting.

 

constraint (noun)

kənˈstreɪnt

something that controls what you do by keeping you within particular limits.

The legal constraints imposed on news outlets make it difficult to report on news stories involving big corporations. 

 

confiscate (verb)

ˈkɒn.fɪ.skeɪt

to take a possession away from someone, usually with the right to do so

Custom officers can confiscate goods that are brought into a country if the required import tax has not been paid.

 

coup (noun)

ˈkuː

when a government is overthrown illegaly, typically in a violent way

On September 11th 1971, General Pinochet led a US backed coup in Chile.

Journalism is Becoming Increasingly Difficult, and Dangerous

The UNESCO freedom of expression report recorded that the killing of journalists rose from 55 in 2021 to 86 in 2022. In the same year, the World Press Freedom Index have given a ‘very serious’ rating for journalism to more countries than ever before. This worrying trend indicates that more governments around the world are suppressing the freedom of the press to report the truth about important stories.

The World Press Freedom Index is published annually by Reporters Without Borders (RWB) and compares the levels of press freedom experienced by media and journalists in 180 countries. The rankings are scored on a scale from zero to 100 and are based on how many abuses were committed against journalists and media outlets in each country over the course of a year from January to December. The index also uses information from surveys completed by journalists, academics, researchers and human rights specialists. Countries scoring below 40 were given the ranking of ‘very serious’. The 2022 edition gave 28 countries ‘very serious’ ratings, which is the highest number since the index was first created 20 years ago.

RWB defines press freedom as the ability of journalists to do their jobs without political, legal, economic or social or cultural constraints. At the more extreme end of the scale, the ranking assess levels of threat of physical harm, psychological or emotional distress, or the threat of not being able to perform one’s professional duties without risk of losing one’s job or having professional premises or equipment destroyed or confiscated.

At the very bottom of the 2022 list was North Korea, which was given a score of 13.92. Next was Eritrea at 19.62, followed by Iran, Turkmenistan and Myanmar, where RWB says press freedom has been set back by 10 years since the military coup in 2021. China, which tightly controls the information its citizens receive, was sixth from bottom with a score of 25.17. Other countries scoring below 40 included Cuba, Saudi Arabia, Laos, Venezuela, Russia and Belarus. Israel, where US journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot dead by Israeli soldiers in 2022, was ranked 84 on the list with a score of 59.62.

Only eight countries ranked as ‘good’ on the index, with Norway being at the top of the list with a score of 92.65. Thirteen of the top 20 countries, which didn’t include the UK or the USA, were in Europe. The UK (24) and the USA (42) were ranked below countries such as Ireland (6), Portugal (7), and Jamaica (12).

Despite European countries scoring well, RWB noted that press freedom was still a concern. For example, in countries such as Germany, France and the Netherlands, journalists had been insulted, physically attacked and had their jobs threatened for their reporting on issues such as the coronavirus pandemic.

QUESTIONS

 

1. There were more journalists killed in 2021 than there were in 2022.

TRUE / FALSE / INFORMATION NOT GIVEN


2. The World Press Freedom Index has been published by UNESCO for the last 20 years.

TRUE / FALSE / INFORMATION NOT GIVEN


3. What aspects of journalistic practice in each country does the World Press Freedom Index assess in order to come up with their rankings?


4. Which country came third from bottom of the list?


5. More countries ranked ‘good’ on the list than ‘satisfactory’?

TRUE / FALSE / INFORMATION NOT GIVEN


6. The United Kingdom and the USA are both rated as ‘good’ by the index.

TRUE / FALSE / INFORMATION NOT GIVEN

Discussion

  • Does the number of journalists killed in 2021 and 2022 surprise you?

  • What do you think about the findings discussed in the article?

  • How important do you think it is to have free and unbiased journalism?

  • How much faith do you have in the mainstream media in your country?

  • What type of news interests you the most and why?

  • Where do you get most of your news from?

  • What would you say are the most reliable national and international news outlets?

  • Do you know any journalists? If so, do you think they enjoy their work?

  • If you were a journalist, what topics would you be most interested in reporting about?

  • “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed; everything else is public relations.” What do you think of this statement?