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Seychelles climbs 5 places in press freedom index; media bodies eye reforms with hope

Victoria, Seychelles | May 3, 2017, Wednesday @ 15:41 in National » GENERAL | By: Salifa Magnan and Sharon Uranie | Views: 2883
Seychelles climbs 5 places in press freedom index; media bodies eye reforms with hope

The Association of Media Practitioners (AMPS) is calling on journalists across the archipelago’s to challenge themselves by being more proactive and coming up with stories that addresses various points of views. (Maryland GovPics/Flickr) Photo License: CC-BY 2.0

(Seychelles News Agency) - Seychelles climbed five places in the latest rankings of the World Press Freedom Index, rising from 92nd last year to 87th out of 180 countries this year. 

The rankings published in the annual index last week is timed to coincide with World Press Freedom day, which falls on Wednesday.

Both the Seychelles Media Commission (SMC) and the Association of Media Practitioners (AMPS) are pleased with the improvement and are hoping for an even better ranking next year for Seychelles, a 115-island archipelago in the western Indian Ocean.

The chairperson of the Media Commission, Ibrahim Afif, told SNA that he appreciates that those who have compiled the information to prepare the index have considered improvements in Seychelles’ general press environment.

“The country has never been in the lowest rank and now we are improving and that is good. This is partly due to the number of reforms undertaken and I think that our next ranking should be even better,” said Afif.

AMPS’s Chairperson Barbara Coopoosamy noted that the association has been very active in organizing training for journalists over the last three years, which is believed to have enticed some journalists to be more proactive and even venture out more into investigative journalism.

“We also feel that we could have done better [as a country], as there are many other contributions we as journalists can make. Journalists tend to self-censor their work and this is most likely one of the criteria used to compile the index,” Coopooosamy added.

Self-censorship along with pluralism, media independence, environment and, legislative framework, transparency, infrastructure and abuses are in fact the set of indicators used to prepare the index.

The Paris-based Reporters sans Frontières says its classification of countries on their level of media freedom is derived by combining the responses of experts to a questionnaire with 87 questions. This is combined with quantitative data on abuses and acts of violence against journalists during the period evaluated.

The press freedom map offers a visual overview of the scores of all the countries in the index.The colour categories are assigned as follows:Good (white), Fairly good (yellow), Problematic (orange),Bad (red), Very bad (black) (www.rsf.org) Photo License: CC-BY

Commenting on the island nation’s performance which is still classified in the “problematic” category, the Reporters sans Frontières (RSF) maintained comments made in the 2016 index.

This includes that “the general-interest media practice a degree of self-censorship in  order not to endanger their earnings from advertising,” adding that newspapers often take political sides resulting in slanted reporting.

“As the government seeks above all to protect the country’s image as a tourist paradise, many sensitive subjects are off limits,” it adds.

RSF however noted that “although Seychelles has strict defamation laws, they have not been used for years and there are few reports of abuses against journalists.” It also says that efforts were made in 2015 to improve the transparency of the media regulatory body.

Both Coopoosamy and Afif are hopeful to see another improvement in the Seychelles’ ranking on the global press freedom index next year, citing work that is being done to improve several legislative frameworks within the media landscape.

“The new access to information act and SBC reforms all point in a direction which will enhance our standing. Next year I would expect to see a better rating,” said Afif.

AMPS is calling on journalists across the archipelago’s media spectrum to challenge themselves by being more proactive and coming up with stories that addresses various points of views while the SMC is calling on media professionals to respect the set code of conduct set up by the commission.

The rankings published in the annual index last week is timed to coincide with World Press Freedom day on Wednesday.(F Delventhal/flickr) Photo License: CC-BY

With regards to Seychelles’ Indian Ocean neighbours, the Comoros is ranked 44, Mauritius 56th and Madagascar 57th.

Namibia, Ghana and Cabo Verde are the best ranked African countries featuring 24th, 26th and 27th in the global ranking.

The World Press Freedom Index has been published annually since 2002.

On its website, the RSF said that the 2017 World Press Freedom Index reflects a world in which attacks on the media have become commonplace and strongmen are on the rise.

“We have reached the age of post-truth, propaganda, and suppression of freedoms – especially in democracies,” says RSF.

A total of 21 countries feature in the “very bad” category and 51 others are classified as “bad.”

The archipelago has two daily newspapers, at least five weekly papers, three radio stations, including one privately-owned radio station, one national television station and a government-supported online news agency.

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Tags: World Press Freedom Index, Seychelles Media Commission, Association of Media Practitioners, Reporters sans Frontière

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