Historical Guide to World Media Freedom: A Country-by-Country Analysis
Publication Year: 2014
Scholars of international relations and international communications view the extent of media freedom from country to country as a key comparative indicator either by itself or in correlation with other indices of national political and economic development. This indicator serves as a bellwether for gauging the health and spread of democracy.
Historical Guide to World Media Freedom is a new reference from CQ Press that brings together comprehensive historical data on media freedom since World War II. It provides consistent and comparable measures of media freedom in all independent countries for the years 1948 to the present. The work also includes country-by country summaries, analyses of historical and regional trends in media freedom, and extensive reliability analyses of media freedom measures.
The key information provided is designed ...
- Front Matter
- Back Matter
- Subject Index
- Chapter 1: Introduction
- Chapter 2: Defining and Measuring Media Freedom
- Chapter 3: The Historical Development and Correlates of Media Freedom
- Chapter 4: The Evolution (and Devolution) of Media Freedom Since World War II: Introduction
- Antigua and Barbuda
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Congo, Democratic Republic of the
- Congo, Republic of the
- Costa Rica
- Côte d'Ivoire
- Czech Republic
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Equatorial Guinea
- Gambia, The
- Marshall Islands
- Micronesia, Federated States of
- Myanmar (Burma)
- New Zealand
- North Korea
- Papua New Guinea
- San Marino
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- Saudi Arabia
- Sierra Leone
- Solomon Islands
- South Africa
- South Korea
- South Sudan
- Sri Lanka
- St. Kitts and Nevis
- St. Lucia
- St. Vincent and the Grenadines
- Timor-Leste (East Timor)
- Trinidad and Tobago
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States
- Chapter 5: Conclusion: Challenges to Media Freedom and Patterns in Its Evolution and Devolution
Copyright © 2014 by CQ Press, an imprint of SAGE. CQ Press is a registered trademark of Congressional Quarterly Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Historical guide to world media freedom : a country-by-country analysis / Jenifer Whitten-Woodring, University of Massachusetts Lowell, Douglas A. Van Belle, Victoria University of Wellington.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-60871-765-1 (hardcover : alk. paper)
1. Freedom of the press. 2. Government and the press. 3. Mass media—Censorship. 4. Censorship. 5. Freedom of expression. I. Van Belle, Douglas A., 1965–II. Title.
This book is printed on acid-free paper.
14 15 16 17 18 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
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This book was born out of a four-inch red binder, overstuffed to the point of bursting with coding notes from our work on the update of the Global Press Freedom Data (which is available at http://faculty.uml.edu/Jenifer_whittenwoodring). We were discussing coding issues over lunch, and as we flipped through that binder, using the notes on how the media environment had shifted and changed over time, in country after country, we realized that it was more than just notes. It was a collection of stories that needed to be told. Fortunately, we had no idea how complicated it would be or how long it would take to integrate the contents of the binder with the box of index cards from the original coding and turn that mess into a book. If we had known how much work it would be, we probably would not have tackled the project. This book is a qualitative companion to the Global Media Freedom Dataset, but it is much more than simply a collection of histories on the evolution of media freedom for 196 countries. Instead, it is an analytical history of media freedom that examines the concept itself, the definitions (or lack thereof) that people have used, the way the idea has been championed and challenged over time, and from that foundation, there is then the collection of information on how media freedom as a political condition has developed, evolved, and disintegrated around the world.
It may surprise many to learn that media freedom is a difficult concept to pin down and define. The biggest problem in both defining and evaluating media freedom stems from its entanglement with ideology. Many studies of news media have focused on an idealized conceptualization of journalism as a fourth estate that holds government accountable. Thus, media freedom has historically been defined by the factors that limit it or prevent it from fulfilling this function. Often, this results in an unrealistic emphasis on activist journalism. Not only does this lead to an exaggeration of minor variations among Western countries with well-established free media environments, but it also makes it a challenge to apply a consistent coding regime over time. The information on media function and practice that is emphasized in the past few decades, and in the descriptions of Western countries, is scarce in discussions of the 1950s and 1960s, and still sometimes difficult to find for many countries in Asia, Africa, South America, and Oceania. Often, the information that was available reads like a list of infractions of an undefined ideal media freedom rather than a real discussion of the political, economic, and social environment. Often, there was little information about the extent to which journalists could and did criticize government, which was our key criterion. As a result, we had to gather a great deal of general historical information for each country to evaluate, describe, and explain the shifts in the media environment over time.
This project was completed with substantial assistance and patience from our friends, family, and colleagues. We would like to thank Doug Goldenberg-Hart, formerly of CQ Press, for believing in this project when we showed him that red binder and for not giving up on us when it took years longer than expected to complete. The editorial team at SAGE/CQ Press led by Diana Axelsen and Jim Brace-Thompson deserve a special thank you for their extraordinary patience and expertise. We appreciate the support of the University of Massachusetts Lowell, especially the Department of Political Science, Dr. Fred Lewis, Dean Luis M. Falcón, and Provost Ahmed Abdelal. And we have to thank Pat James at the University of Southern California for recognizing our mutual interest in media freedom and introducing us.
This book would not have been possible if we had not been able to access the early reports gathered by the International Press Institute (IPI); thus, we are grateful to IPI Executive Director [Page x]Alison McKenzie for allowing us access to the IPI archives in Vienna, Austria; to Christiane Klint, Membership & Global Relations, for her assistance in sorting through all those years of reports; and to the IPI staff whose advocacy and assistance has helped reporters worldwide and whose monitoring of media freedom provides a valuable resource for scholars. We also appreciate Paul Losch for responding to our call for help in gathering information about the Americas and providing access to the early reports of the Inter American Press Association in the Latin American Collection at the University of Florida's Smathers Library. Thanks to historians Abby Chandler, Lisa Edwards, and Tom Maulucci for helping these political scientists locate historical resources, and the team of research assistants at the University of Southern California and the University of Massachusetts Lowell who helped with the data gathering—Kaitlin Everly, Ellen Fehr, Pamela Mizuno, Natalia Nyczak, Amanda Peterson, Brett Power, and Jai-Ayla Sutherland. And thanks especially to Salvatore Schiano who came on board during the final push to finish this book and provided invaluable research assistance when we needed it most!
Finally, we would not have been able to complete this project without the support and patience of our families, especially our spouses, Terry and Wendy; our children, Patrick, Alex, Tabitha, Jensen, and Samantha; and David, Jo, and Guy Whitten. We spent many family holidays and weekends writing about media freedom.
About the Authors
Appendix A: Media Freedom Region by Region[Page 521]Africa
F=Free; IF=Imperfectly Free; NF=Not Free; NM=No MediaAfrica 1948–1959Africa 1960–1969
[Page 522][Page 523][Page 524]Africa 1970–1979[Page 525]Africa 1980–1989[Page 526][Page 527]Africa 1990–2000[Page 528][Page 529]Africa 2001–2012Americas
F=Free; IF=Imperfectly Free; NF=Not Free; NM=No Media[Page 530]Americas 1948–1959[Page 531]Americas 1960–1969[Page 532]Americas 1970–1979[Page 533]Americas 1980–1989[Page 534][Page 535]Americas 1990–2000[Page 536]Americas 2001–2012East Asia and the Pacific
F=Free; IF=Imperfectly Free; NF=Not Free; NM=No Media[Page 537]East Asia and the Pacific 1948–1959[Page 538]East Asia and the Pacific 1960–1969[Page 539]East Asia and the Pacific 1970–1979[Page 540]East Asia and the Pacific 1980–1989[Page 541]East Asia and the Pacific 1990–2000East Asia and the Pacific 2001–2012[Page 542]Europe and Eurasia
F=Free; IF=Imperfectly Free; NF=Not Free; NM=No Media[Page 543]Europe and Eurasia 1948–1959[Page 544]Europe and Eurasia 1960–1969[Page 545]Europe and Eurasia 1970–1979[Page 546]Europe and Eurasia 1980–1989[Page 547]Europe and Eurasia 1990–2000[Page 548]Europe and Eurasia 2001–2012Europe and Eurasia 2001–2012Near East
F=Free; IF=Imperfectly Free; NF=Not Free; NM=No Media[Page 549]Near East 1948–1959[Page 550]Near East 1960–1969Near East 1970–1979[Page 551]Near East 1980–1989[Page 552]Near East 1990–2000Near East 2001–2012South and Central Asia
F=Free; IF=Imperfectly Free; NF=Not Free; NM=No Media[Page 553]South and Central Asia 1948–1959South and Central Asia 1960–1969South and Central Asia 1970–1979[Page 554]South and Central Asia 1980–1989South and Central Asia 1990–2000South and Central Asia 2001–2012
Appendix B: The Global Media Freedom Dataset: Data Gathering Methods, Guidelines for Using the Data, and Merging the Data with Freedom House Data[Page 555]Where to Find the Data
The Global Media Freedom Data is available online at http://faculty.uml.edu/Jenifer_whitten-woodring.Data Gathering Methods
As outlined in Chapter 2, the data were gathered using a multistage, multicoder sorting technique. At least two coders independently extracted raw data from historical documents, noted the significant detail in that data, and coded the country for every year of its inclusion in the database. In the majority of cases, the coders agreed on the code for a country-year, and neither noted any significant uncertainty in the code they assigned, which then completed the coding for that case. In the cases where the coders did not agree on the code or one of the coders indicated significant concerns about the code, the case was passed to a third coder who examined the evidence identified by each of the original coders. Most of the cases with discrepant coding were a result of one or sometimes both coders finding historical accounts that the other did not find, and simply combining the raw data resolved the discrepancy. A small number of cases involved conflicting information or other difficulties that required more extensive investigation by the third coder and sometimes a fourth. In those instances, the conclusions were vetted and discussed by a small group that included one or both of the principal investigators. In gathering the detailed historic information for this volume, we occasionally found the need to adjust our codes, but in most cases these changes were minor (usually between free and imperfectly free).
From 1948 to 2001, the media environments around the world are sorted into three basic categories.1
- 1—Free—countries where criticism of government and government officials is a common and normal part of the political dialogue in the mediated public sphere.
- 2—Imperfectly Free—countries where social, legal, or economic costs related to the criticism of government or government officials limits public criticism, but investigative journalism and criticism of major policy failings can and does occur.
- 3—Not Free—countries where it is not possible to safely criticize government or government officials.
In the dataset, additional codes are used for identifying states that for one reason or another cannot be effectively coded.
Guidelines for Using Data
- 0—No Media—countries where there is no effective national media.
- 8—Missing Data—countries where political or social disruption makes it impossible to code for the year.
- 9—Missing Data—countries where media were known to exist, but there is insufficient historical material to effectively code the nature of the media environment. [Page 556]
- 999—Missing Data—countries that did not exist as independent political entities. Often occupied by foreign forces, annexed, or dissolved.
Because both free media and imperfectly free media are able to function freely, the difference between these categories is much smaller than the difference between imperfectly free media and not free media. Simply put, not free media cannot function freely. Therefore, in studies where media freedom is an independent variable, where the effects of media freedom are what matters, we recommend using a dichotomous version of the variable where the categories of free media and imperfectly free media are collapsed into functionally free media versus not free media. In studies where media freedom is a dependent variable, where the causes of media freedom are what matters, we recommend using the trichotomous version of the variable (free media, imperfectly free media, and not free media) to explain these important variations. However, because the differences between these categories are not equal, it is important to use a model that accounts for this (ordered logistic regression or multinomial logistic regression are both possibilities).Merging the Global Media Freedom Data with the Freedom House Data
We gathered data for all available countries from 1948 to 2001. We stopped at 2001, because this is the point where Freedom House adopted a far more detailed and transparent process of gathering its data for its Freedom of the Press reports. Freedom House's Freedom of the Press reports assign each country-year a code that theoretically ranges from 0 to 100, with 100 being the most restricted. Freedom House also categorizes each media environment as Free (for those with a score of 0 to 30), Partly Free (for those with a score of 31 to 60) or Not Free (for those with a score of 61 to 100). While these categories for the most part correspond with our Free, Imperfectly Free, and Not Free categories, the borders between the Freedom House categories are less distinct than ours. In the Freedom House coding, the difference between countries with a score of 60 and 61 is slight, but with our dataset, the difference between countries that are imperfectly free and not free is the difference between being able to criticize the government and not being able to criticize the government. Consequently, in some cases the categories do not correspond, and this is usually the case where the Freedom House categories are closest to the scoring borders. In the country profiles in Chapter 4 and our updated dataset, we have used the Freedom House Freedom of the Press data as a guide, but have also relied on historic accounts and our own coding criteria. Thus, our dataset extends through 2012. For future updates, we advise using the Freedom House Freedom of the Press data and categorization as a guide but suggest careful consideration of countries that are on the borders. According to our coding guidelines, country-years in which the media are not free to criticize the government should be coded as not free, and country-years where the media are somewhat restricted but are for the most part able to criticize government should be coded as imperfectly free, and country-years where the media are clearly able to criticize government should be coded as free.Notes
1. In the original Van Belle definition and coding there was a fourth not free category for media that were completely controlled by government versus those that were indirectly controlled by government of a third party, but with the end of the cold war and the massive growth in information technology, distinguishing between state-operated news media and media that are controlled by other means has become something of a pointless exercise. Aside from North Korea, it is difficult to argue that any states have media run exclusively by the state as so many were during the cold war.