Reporters Without Borders is a nongovernmental organization that fights for freedom of the press. Each year, Reporters Without Borders publishes the Press Freedom Index, an assessment and ranking of press freedom around the world.
In 2003, Reporters Without Borders ranked Bhutan’s press freedom record at a miserable 157 of the 166 countries they studied.
But since then, Bhutan’s record has improved consistently. In 2006 Bhutan was ranked 98 out of 168 countries. And for 2010, Bhutan is ranked 64 of 178 countries.
64th in the Press Freedom Index is not bad. We must protect our good record. And naturally, we must try to improve it.
So I was happy to learn about the Bhutan Media Dialogue that was organized last week “… to take an in-depth look at the concept of the Fourth Estate and what it means for Bhutan.” However, I was concerned that one of the two “veteran Asian journalist-scholars” guiding the discussions was from Singapore.
Why? Because Singapore’s press freedom ranking for 2010 was a dismal 136.
So I wasn’t surprised to read the following article, by Bhutan Today, cautioning against the ills of an “aggressive media”:
There’s no doubt that we can learn a lot from Singapore – hard work, discipline, organization and entrepreneurship are a few examples. And we must learn from their success. But given their record, they couldn’t tell us how to develop a vibrant media.
Incidentally, the other “veteran Asian journalist-scholar” was from Thailand, a country that was ranked 153 in the 2010 Press Freedom Index.