U.S. falls in global index of press freedom, reporters' group says

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The index that evaluates press freedom in 180 countries, showed that "media phobia" has become more pronounced.

India slipped to the 138th position in the World Press Freedom Index and now ranks just above Pakistan.

The World Press Freedom Index measures media freedom in 180 countries and the latest measurements find Taiwan improving in rank, from 45th to 42nd, maintaining the freest press in Asia. The ongoing wars in Syria (117) and Yemen (down one at 167) and the terrorism charges still being used in Egypt (161), Saudi Arabia (down one at 169) and Bahrain (down two at 166) continue to make West Asia the most hard and risky region for journalists to operate in.

The report said the physical violence against journalists was mainly responsible for India's low ranking.

Authoritarian regimes like Turkey and Egypt were ranked at 157 and 161 respectively as scribes in the countries are "routinely accused of terrorism and arbitrarily imprisoned for non-conformity". A media-bashing enthusiast, Trump has referred to reporters "enemies of the people", the term once used by Joseph Stalin, RSF comments.

Its annual report said that reporters were the target of a growing wave of authoritarianism with leaders whipping up hostility against them.

Reporters Without Borders also known as Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), an global organization that defends freedom of the press across the globe, in its annual report said that coverage in Indian occupied Kashmir continues to be very hard because Kashmiri journalists working for local media outlets are often targeted by soldiers at the behest of Indian government.

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The report also analysed press freedom in five regions, with the Middle East and North Africa region being the worst for journalists.

He added: "The political leaders who are despising journalists are undermining the principle of public debate that is based on facts rather than propaganda".

"The press freedom situation in Latvia is not as favorable as in neighboring Estonia and has continued to worsen with the spread of "fake news" of suspected Russian origin". "Xi Jinping's China is getting closer and closer to a contemporary version of totalitarianism", the report mentioned.

While every region of the world saw declines in press freedom, there were some bright spots in parts of Africa where several authoritarian leaders have left office.

On Asia, the report pointed out that the Chinese model of state-controlled news and information "is being copied in other Asian countries, especially Vietnam and Cambodia".

The Reporters Without Borders then noted that the "continuing dispute" over ownership of the "main national opposition TV channel, Rustavi 2", would "therefore have a big impact".

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