The 2017 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders last week has asserted that Journalism is not a prestige profession in the countries that are members of the Organization of East Caribbean States (OECS).
The index placed the OECS at 38 in the ranking of 180 countries, down eight points from 2016.
According to Reporters Without Borders, Journalists in the OECS 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,” the organisation said.
It observed that in some of the Islands, political parties even own or have major shares in media companies, compromising journalistic independence.
“The authorities are also monitoring social networks more and more closely, which encourages a degree of self-censorship,” Reporters Without Borders stated.
It noted that in August 2016, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines adopted the Cybercrime Bill.
The organisation described the measure as a vaguely worded law which is expected to chill freedom of the press and expression online.
It said like many of the countries in the OECS, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines still criminalizes defamation.
Reporters Without Borders observed that the legislation has extended this offense to include online content.
The publishers of the 2017 World Press Freedom Index wrote that the document reflects a world in which attacks on the media have become commonplace and strongmen are on the rise.
“We have reached the age of post-truth, propaganda, and suppression of freedoms – especially in democracies,” they declared.
Norway, Sweden, and Finland were the top three countries in the Press Freedom Index, Jamaica placed 8th, Suriname, 20th, Trinidad and Tobago 34th while Guyana was 60th.
The United States was down two places at 43rd while the United Kingdom was down two at 40th.
North Korea brought up the rear.