Extract from Columbia Journalism Review:
What Singapore’s overseers don’t seem to grasp is that without a press free to monitor power and challenge wrongdoing, even otherwise “developed” countries suffer greatly. One need look no farther east than Dubai for an example of a locale which, in the absence of an unencumbered press able to expose profligacy and corruption, is now bearing a debt crisis for which its rulers and citizens were pitifully unprepared.
But the relationship between an unshackled press and societal development goes beyond the benefits of financial preparedness. There is some evidence that improvements in press freedom lead to improvements in overall human development. In a recent study I conducted, the release of which is forthcoming, I examined UN Human Development scores and Reporters Without Borders press ratings for 130 countries from the years 2002 and 2007, and found evidence that changes in press freedom predate changes in overall development, even in many so-called developed nations. Changes in press freedom from 2002-2007 were more predictive of human development scores in 2007 than 2002-2007 changes in human development scores were predictive of 2007 press freedom ratings.
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