Jamaica has taken the Number 7 spot on the 2021 World Press Freedom Index compiled by the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) organization. While its seventh-place ranking represents a drop of one place on the Index from 2020 when it was ranked sixth in the world, the country remains one of the safest in the world for journalists due to its rare occurrences of physical aggression against journalists and the fact that it has been more than ten years since a serious act of violence was directed against a member of the press.
In placing Jamaica in seventh place in the ranking, Reporters Without Borders cited the fact that no journalists, citizen journalists, or media assistants had been killed in the island nation. Comparatively, the United States ranked at Number 44 on the Index.
Officials in Jamaica were criticized for the actions of the government at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, however. Restrictions imposed were viewed as prohibiting journalists from doing their jobs at a time when there was a real need for accuracy in reporting. The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ), editors, and executives of Jamaica’s major media entities requested that Prime Minister Andrew Holness take back the lockdown orders that prevented television and radio reporters, presenters, camera operators, technicians, and other media staff from freely moving about the country.
In 2019, the PAJ found Holness had made “troubling misrepresentations of the work of the press” when he suggested that news reporters were not required to stick with truth or facts and that a free press allowed journalists to “take whatever stance they want.”
Reporters Without Borders is the largest non-governmental organization (NGO) in the world focused on defending freedom of the media. The RSF regards the right to be informed and to inform others as a basic human right. According to the RSF, almost 50 percent of the world’s population still lacks access to free information. Without the knowledge they need to manage their lives, people around the world are prevented from living in pluralist political systems where factual truth is the foundation for making individual and collective choices.