The 2022 world press freedom classification recently published by the prestigious organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) should be taken very seriously, where they seek to compare, analyze, investigate and point out the causes and effects that cause distortions in one of the freedoms most precious in the democratic world.
The concern shown by the study about the disinformation that penetrates more and more into democracies is strongly striking, which is caused, fundamentally, by the advent of a digital information world without any type of regulation that prevents its consequences or that generates serious responsibilities. and forceful for this type of activity. Likewise, concern is growing about the social fracture that this phenomenon is producing.
Of course, the classification shows an issue that in the domestic sphere should concern us in a special way. Our country appears in general terms in 124th place, but in one of the items that deals with violence against journalists, our country occupies 179th place out of the 180 that were listed. In the other indicators there is no need to claim victory because unfortunately we appear in place 121 in the sociocultural context which measures the cultural pressures that prevent us from talking about certain powers and instead 94 in the normative framework that measures, among other things, the level of censorship or impunity in against journalists.
Today we must urge to rethink the role of the press in our democratic systems and above all to explore the new trends, particularly digital, that are being generated in the world. It is clear that artificial intelligence, surveillance capitalism and computer hacking are the great challenges facing a free, responsible and, above all, ethical press. In its document “Threats that are silent. Trends in the safety of journalists (Threats that Silence: Trends in the Safety of Journalists) UNESCO warns of all these phenomena that are putting the work of journalists around the world at serious risk.
It is necessary to understand that freedom of the press empowers any democratic system. The flow of information, the generation of debate, the beginning of public conversation, as well as the interpretation of the rationality of power, is possible when we find a political, legal and social framework that guarantees the healthy exercise of it. On the contrary, when we revile it, silence it, riddle it with bullets or make fun of it, we will only find a one-way path towards authoritarianism which, history has shown us, is a political form that entails closure, violence and death.
In recent years we have witnessed a growing wave of political powers in different parts of the world that feel threatened by the use of the press and we are witnessing, ridiculous as it may seem, a social movement that despises information, that ridicules the informed dialogue that undermines the one that evidences the data that reality shows us. This political and social movement has targeted the responsible press and it is not free to observe the so-called cancellation processes against those journalists who seek to show the ridiculousness of various totemic ideas that produce the social polarization that is fracturing the world.
It is necessary to renew and reassess the fundamental role played by serious and responsible journalism in our democracy, fortifying public space and strengthening public opinion. Otherwise, we will observe in a more palpable way the languishing of journalism and therefore the thinning of our already fragile democracy. Today I invite you to be outraged by the place that Mexico occupies in this classification, but more so by each and every one of the voices that could no longer write in a media outlet.
**The author is a Doctor of Law. He is currently the director of the School of Government and Economics at the Universidad Panamericana, he was director of the Bachelor’s Degree in Government at the Panamericana. He is a member of the National Research System of Mexico. He chairs the Ibero-American Cooperation Association for Transparency and Access to Information. Author, co-author and coordinator of 15 books on information freedoms.