There are few surprises but, as always, loads of opportunities for stories.
By the new chart, New Zealand is the least corrupt place in the world, followed by Denmark, Singapore, Sweden and Switzerland. The United States ended up at #19 after the United Kingdom and Japan (tied for #17) and just ahead of Barbados at #20.
The bottom five rankings on the list:
- Uzbekistan – 174
- Chad – 175
- Iraq and Sudan – 176
- Myanmar – 178
- Afghanistan – 179
- Somalia – 180
Just a few of my personal favorites:
- Dominican Republic – 99 (Tied with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jamaica, Madagascar, Senegal, Tonga, and Zambia. Worse than Liberia and Sri Lanka at #97 and better than Argentina, Benin, Gabon, Gambia and Niger at #106.)
- China – 79 (Tied with Bukino Faso. WOrse than Brazil, Colombia, Peru and Suriname at #75 but better than Swaziland and Trinidad and Tobago at #79)
- Venezuela – 162 (Tied with Angola, Congo Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Kyrgyzstan. Worse than Cambodia, CEntral African Empire, Laos and Tajikistan at #158. Better than Burundi, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea, Haiti, Iran and Turkmenistan at #168.)
So why is all this important?
As TI points out the table is a comparison of corruption.
The rank shows how one country compares to others included in the index. The CPI score indicates the perceived level of public-sector corruption in a country/territory.
Using data from TI — including their Global Corruption Barometer — reporters can ask more probing questions about development and assistance programs. Another source could be the Millennium Challenge Corporation. (This is a U.S. funded agency that provides grants if — and only if — governments show real progress in improving governance, which included getting corruption under control.) Looking at the MCC grantees, you will notice that these countries fall in the mid-range of the TI charts.
The TI data from this year can also be compared with previous years. Now it becomes easier to see if a country has seriously addressed its corruption problems. Or has a country become more corrupt?
FYI, here are the differences between the 2009 report and the first report in 2001 for my favorites plus the United States:
- United States: 2009 – #19; 2001 – #16
- China: 2009 – #79; 2001 – #57
- Dominican Republic: 2009 – 99; 2001 – #63
- Venezuela: 2009 – #162; 2001 – #69
Maybe local reporters could interview immigrants in the United States about their perceptions of the fairness of the ranking of their home country. (Attention bean counters and “Local Local Local” advocates: This is local and it doesn’t cost any more than what you are already paying.)
The numbers tell us just so much. We have to go out and put faces and hearts to the numbers. And context.
(First published at Journalism and the World, the blog site for the SPJ International Journalism Committee.)