Left to right: Jennifer Windsor, Joe Urschel and Thomas A. Dine. (Maria Bryk)

Special Program: Press Freedoms On Global Decline

April 29, 2008

Guests: Jennifer Windsor and Thomas Dine

WASHINGTON — The Newseum's 36-foot by 20-foot map illustrating press freedoms around the world served as a backdrop for the April 29, 2008, release of Freedom House's annual survey of global press freedoms.

According to the survey, which has studied media independence in 195 countries and territories since 1980, press freedoms have suffered a six-year decline. Journalists are working in increasingly hostile environments in almost every region in the world.

"This exhibit provides a unique platform to depict global, regional and country trends," Jennifer Windsor, executive director of Freedom House, said of the Time Warner World News Gallery where the map is located.

The map is color coordinated to reflect the different levels of press freedoms. Countries painted in green enjoy press freedoms. Those in yellow have partial press freedoms. The countries in red allow no press freedoms.

"One of the core messages at the Newseum is that a free press is the cornerstone of democracy," said Joe Urschel, executive director of the Newseum. "The two go hand in hand, as do the missions of the Freedom House and the Newseum."

The Newseum's map, which Urschel said would be updated every year, was updated prior to the program. The status of press freedoms in five countries — four in Africa, one in South America —changed.

  • Benin went from a "free" press to "partly free."
  • Central African Republic went from "partly free" to "not free."
  • Egypt went from "not free" to "partly free."
  • Guyana went from "free" to "partly free."
  • Niger went from "partly free" to "not free."

"Daily headlines are reminding us that freedom is fragile," said Thomas Dine, a Freedom House trustee member.

Freedom House is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C., that promotes freedom and democracy around the world.

The Newseum, which opened on April 11, 2008, is a 250,000-square-foot museum of news that offers visitors an experience that blends five centuries of news history with up-to-the-second technology and hands-on exhibits.

View a photo slideshow from the event: Six-Year Decline for Press Freedoms

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