According to Reporters without Borders (RSF), there has been a “deterioration” in access to reliable news which has been exacerbated by the pandemic, with the group warning that journalism, which they consider to be “the main vaccine against disinformation”, being partially or completely blocked in nearly three quarters of the world.

While the situation regarding journalism around the world has been getting worse, in Portugal it has been improving, and Portugal has been ranked as the 9th best country in the World Press Freedom Index 2021 by RSF, rising one position in the rankings compared to 2020.

Among the Portuguese-speaking countries included in the index, Brazil is the worst (111th), having dropped four positions. Cape Verde went down two places (27th), Timor-Leste went up seven (71st), Guinea-Bissau went down one (95th) and Mozambique four (108th), while Angola went up three (103rd).

In the new world index, a hard picture is drawn and it is concluded that 73 percent of the nations of the world have serious problems with freedom of the press.

For the RSF, many countries used the new coronavirus pandemic “to prevent journalists from accessing information, sources and reports on the ground”.

This was seen as particularly being the case in Asia, the Middle East and Europe, the organisation said.

RSF also highlighted the drop in public confidence in journalism itself. The association indicated that 59 percent of people surveyed in 28 countries said that journalists “deliberately try to deceive the public by spreading information that they know to be false”.

The top 10 best countries for freedom of the press is, once again, dominated by European nations, with the top four made up of Scandinavian countries.

“Journalism is the best vaccine against disinformation,” said RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire.

“Unfortunately, its production and distribution are too often blocked by political, economic, technological and, sometimes, even cultural factors. In response to the virality of disinformation across borders, on digital platforms and via social media, journalism provides the most effective means of ensuring that public debate is based on a diverse range of established facts.”