Members of the Canada media enjoy freedoms that are not available to reporters and journalists in many other nations. In fact, the international organization, Reporters Without Borders, ranks Canada 13 out of 173 nations for the freedom with which its press is allowed to operate.
Reporters Without Borders, now based in Paris, was founded in Montpellier in 1985 as a non-governmental organization advocating freedom of the press on an international scale. The organization’s official name, in French, is Reporters Sans Frontiéres.
According to its charter, the organization was inspired by the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 of which declares the universal rights to ‘freedom of opinion and expression’ and to ‘seek, receive and impart’ news, ideas, and information ‘regardless of frontiers.’ With Reporters Without Borders as a founding member, the International Freedom of Expression Exchange was formed as an international watchdog network to monitor violations of free expression and to provide legal defense for writers, journalists, and other members of the media who are subjected to persecution for exercising those rights.
The organization lists 14 partners, or freedom of expression groups, that are located on five continents. It employs 130 correspondents stationed around the world and many of the world’s human rights activist groups, journalists, jurists, and researchers are affiliated with the organization.
Each year, Reporters Without Borders calls on each of these partner groups and affiliates to complete a survey describing the state of the freedom of the press for every nation of significant size on the planet. The data from these questionnaires is then compiled into an index used to rank the nations by the freedom, or lack thereof, experienced by the members of the media operating within national borders.
The latest ranking, published in October 2008, lists Canada as number 13 out of the 173 nations reviewed. This ranking means Canada media members enjoy more freedom to present their stories, without censorship, harassment, or persecution, than most nations in the world.
All nations ranking higher in freedom than the Canada media are European, except for the inclusion of New Zealand. The United States is in 36th place.