Global polarization and rising political and social tensions are being exacerbated by the “news and information chaos” of online disinformation and propaganda, according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and findings from its new press freedom ranking of 180 countries and territories.
The 2022 World Press Freedom Index classified the situation for journalism as “very bad” in a record 28 countries. Iran (178), Eritrea (179) and North Korea (180) ranked as the worst countries for press freedom, while Norway (1), Denmark (2) and Sweden (3) continue to be “a democratic model where freedom of expression flourishes,” RSF said in its overview of the annual ranking.
Divisions are deepening in democracies around the world — including the United States (42) — driven in part by media polarization as well as propaganda orchestrated by autocratic regimes, RSF noted. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “reflects this process, as the physical conflict was preceded by a propaganda war.”
Dig deeper: Use this think sheet to further explore RSF’s new press freedom ranking and examine the effects of “news and information chaos.”
Politico’s bombshell May 2 report containing a leaked draft of an opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade sent partisan shockwaves across the country. News coverage of the report’s fallout quickly prompted a debate over whether newsrooms should focus on the possible impact of the draft ruling, or the leak itself. Politico’s reporting also raised important questions about the journalistic ethics of publishing the draft — several of which, Poynter’s Kelly McBride argues, remain unanswered, including a detailed explanation of why Politico is “so confident the document is real and how they made the decision to publish it.”
Discuss: When should news organizations publish confidential documents that have been leaked? How do news organizations verify the authenticity of leaked materials? How should they explain this process to the public (especially when their source needs to remain anonymous)?
How is the war in Ukraine being portrayed by state-controlled television stations inside Russia? The New York Times reviewed more than 50 hours of footage and found baseless conspiracies and conflicting, “scattershot narratives” designed to confuse and overwhelm the Russian public.
NO: Home pregnancy test kits do not contain a secret “Plan B” emergency contraceptive pill inside. YES: Home pregnancy test kits include a desiccant tablet that absorbs moisture to keep products dry but, manufacturers warn, should not be ingested.
NewsLit takeaway: Videos that test “amazing” tricks and “life hacks” are popular, but often don’t tell the whole story. While some “life hack” tests are benign, amateur claims about health and medical issues should always be approached with extreme skepticism — and verified with trusted health authorities.
NO: The BBC did not report that Poland’s top general ordered the country’s army to prepare for an invasion of Ukraine, as this video suggests. YES: This is a doctored video that has been digitally altered to impersonate BBC branding.