Media Freedom Indexes in Democracies: A Critical Perspective Through the Cases of Poland and Chile
We analyzed the media freedom indexes of Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders to determine which areas they focus on and which they omit. We also assessed the degree to which these indexes are appropriate for measuring media freedom in democratic countries. We concluded that these instruments—with their focus on violence against journalists and government constraints on media—are more appropriate for assessments in nondemocratic countries than for understanding the subtle problems of democracies, often related to the media ownership structure, media’s dependence on advertising, self-censorship, and the scant presence of citizen voices. The instruments examined reduce freedom of expression to its negative dimension, freedom from government interference, and ignore positive freedom that is the universal right to free speech.