By Julienne Bay
Is Canada treating its journalists better this year compared to last year?
Canada has been ranked 18 on the 2014 World Press Freedom Index, up two spots from 20 last year. The index is released by Reporters Without Borders annually, based on the freedom of journalists and news organizations, as well as government transparency in 180 countries.
Despite moving up on the list, Tom Henheffer, the executive director of Canadian Journalists for Free Expression said it doesn’t mean Canada’s freedom of the press is improving.
“It could simply be that some other countries are getting worse in relation to Canada,” said Henheffer. “There’s a lot of issues ongoing from the concentration of media ownership…to silencing of scientists to whistleblowers.”
Henheffer also said access to information is the biggest problem in Canada.
In December, Parliament Hill employees were asked to sign mandatory confidentiality agreements, which were criticized by unions and opposition parties.
Paul Schneidereit of the Canadian Association of Journalists said the government isn’t “nearly as transparent as they should be.”
“The reality is, you run into delays, access fees and stuff being redacted…it all adds up to lack of transparency,” said Schneidereit.
The top countries in this year’s World Press Freedom Index are Finland, the Netherlands, Norway and Luxembourg.
“If the Canadian government wants to be more transparent, they should study what they’re doing in Finland and Denmark,” said Schneidereit.
The U.S. ranked well below Canada, at 46, a significant fall from its 32nd place last year. Reporters Without Borders highlighted some notable issues in the U.S., including the conviction of Private Chelsea Manning and the possibility of a 105-year prison sentence for journalist Barrett Brown for publishing information that hackers obtained from a private intelligence company.
Some of the countries on the bottom of this index include Somalia, Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea .