The annual report, also available in Farsi on the group's web site, measures freedom of the press around the globe from September 1, 2008 to September 1, 2009.
Iran was ranked 172nd this year, falling even further than its 166th place in 2008. Its position was only better than that of Turkmenistan, North Korea, and Eritrea, respectively 173rd to 175th in the ranking. 'Iran has now reached the gates of the infernal trio at the very bottom, where the media are so suppressed they are non-existent,' said Reporters Without Borders in its report.
The Paris-based organization compiles its report with the help of questionnaires completed by media experts, partner organizations, journalists, jurists, and human rights experts. The index does not cover all the countries in the world and does not take into consideration purely human rights issues.
The questionnaire contains 40 criteria which assess violations against journalists - murder, prison, or torture - as well as against news outlets. The index is also affected by the level of impunity which the violators enjoy. Occupational issues such as self-censorship and financial pressure, particularly present in Iran where journalists are routinely laid off or prevented from working, are also parameters used in calculating the index.
Reporters Without Borders stressed that the index should 'in no way be taken as an indication of the quality of the press in the countries concerned.'
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