PCI rejects Press Freedom ranking citing "lack of clarity"
Press Council of India (PCI) has rejected the World Press Freedom Index ranking after India slipped two positions to rank 138th among 180 countries. PCI, the apex body for preserving the freedom of the press, has said the index lacked "clarity" on elements it weighs in the rankings. The current ranking is a further drop because last year as well India's ranking had slipped three positions.
Published by Reporters Without Borders (RWB), the index put India one rank above Pakistan and far below Afghanistan and Palestine. Under the title "Deadly threat from Modi's nationalism", its report said self-censorship is growing in national media and "journalists are increasingly the targets of online smear campaigns." The report blamed the killing of journalists like Gauri Lankesh, as the reason behind India's low ranking.
"We reject the rankings by the RWB. I am of the opinion that undue importance is given to the rankings. There is no clarity on the inputs that weighed in the ranking of a country," PCI Chairman Justice (Retd.) C.K. Prasad told PTI. Prasad said PCI had been writing to RWB since 2015, to understand how the index was prepared but got no reply.
The index analyzes press freedom through 87 questions answered by media professionals, lawyers, and sociologists. The questionnaire is based on indicators like pluralism, media independence, environment and self-censorship, transparency, abuses, etc. The factors are then calculated through a formula.
Intermittently, many reports have established India's dismal press freedom scenario. In "The India Freedom Report", The Hoot recorded 3 journalists being killed for their reporting. The same report noted 46 cases of attacks, 27 cases of police action (detention and arrest) and 12 cases of threats. The report was published in May 2017, after analyzing previous 16 months.
In March, three journalists were murdered in a deliberate hit-and-run accident, stirring massive outrage across the world. The last decade has seen killing of 25 Indian journalists according to Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) report, while 47 Indian journalists have lost their lives since 1992.