Journalists: Progress Needed Toward Press Freedom in Africa

Journalists: Progress Needed Toward Press Freedom in Africa

BERLIN -- On the eve of the U.N.-recognized World Press Freedom Day, several African journalists visiting here for an industry conference reflected on the state of media freedom in their home countries. They painted a picture of a continent where, despite some positive strides, media oppression has yet to be overcome by government respect -- and public demand -- for the basic rights to know and inform.

The tiny Horn of Africa country of Eritrea is among the world's top oppressors of the free press, according to the latest press freedom rankings from Reporters Without Borders (RWB). Even South Africa, widely considered the benchmark for what the continent can achieve in the way of press freedom, dropped in the group's rankings.

Compared with its 2002 ranking of 16th, South Africa plummeted to 44th on the Paris-based NGO's 2006 Press Freedom Index of 168 countries. Eritrea, which got the worst rating of any country in Africa, was 166th on the overall list, above North Korea and Turkmenistan.

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