Poland continues its decline in the World Press Freedom Index, coming in at #58 out of 180 countries in the new 2018 listing by Reporters Without Borders. This sandwiches it between Fiji and the Dominican Republic, and ties Poland with its record low rank of 2006.
In a scathing justification of Poland’s position titled “Blinded by Ideology,” Reporters Without Borders cited the tightening of control by the ruling right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party over public media, which it says has been “transformed into government propaganda mouthpieces.”
The report also criticizes the government’s charges last year against journalist Tomasz Piątek for alleging that (now former) Polish Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz has ties to the Russian government and organized crime, as well as a record fine of nearly 1.5 million PLN by regulators against broadcaster TVN24 for showing footage of demonstrations against media restrictions. (Both actions were later reversed under intense domestic and international pressure.)
The right-leaning Polish Journalists Association (SDP) has accused Reporters Without Borders in the past of being less harsh on PiS’ rival Platforma (PO) party when it made shakeups to state media during its time in power. It was then, in early 2015, that Poland achieved its record high Index rank of #18.
Since then the country has fallen to #47 in 2016, #54 last year, and now #58. Its current numerical score – 26.59 – is an all time high (indicating less press freedom). In comparison, the number one country (Norway) scored 7.63, and North Korea came in last at 88.7.
Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontières), founded in 1985, is a Paris-based non-governmental organization which aims to promote freedom of information and the press worldwide. Their Press Freedom Index has been released annually since 2002.