Jamaica has been ranked sixth out of 180 countries on the 2018 World Press Freedom Index, which was compiled by French-based media watchdog group, Reporters Without Borders.
The island is the only country from the Caribbean region to be placed in the top ten on the index that was released earlier this week. The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) was ranked at 35, while Trinidad and Tobago came in at 39.
The index ranked countries according to the level of freedom available to journalists.
In commenting on the level press of freedom in Jamaica, the media watchdog group noted that the island was among the countries that had the most respect for freedom of information.
“The very occasional physical attacks on journalists must be offset against this, but no serious act of violence or threat to media freedom has been reported since February 2009, a month that saw two cases of abuse of authority by the Kingston police,” the watchdog group noted.
It also gave commendation for the law decriminalizing defamation passed by the House of Representatives in 2013, which the group noted was a step in the right direction for the island.
However, the index had critical comments for journalism practiced in other countries of the Caribbean region, such as within the islands of the OECS, including St Lucia and Dominica, where it was not seen as a prestige profession.
“Journalists get little training and often abandon media work because it is so badly paid. Many media outlets are under the direct influence of politicians, especially during elections, because officials can withdraw state advertising at any time, depriving them of income they depend on,” Reporters Without Borders noted.
Meanwhile, Norway received the best ranking for press freedom in the world followed by Sweden. Other countries in the top ten, along with Jamaica, included Netherlands, Finland, Switzerland, Belgium, New Zealand, Denmark and Costa Rica.
The watchdog group, which accused United States’ president, Donald Trump of perpetrating anti-media rhetoric and actively seeking to curb press freedom, ranked that country at 45. This continued the downward trend for the country’s press freedom after being ranked at 43 last year.