Once again a quick look at the latest Transparency International Index of Perceived Corruption and the 2011 Freedom House Press Freedom maps and one is inevitably drawn to the conclusion that more press freedom means less corruption.
Granted, it is hardly a 1:1 ratio. Honduras and Syria are ranked the same in corruption (#129 of 182). Freedom House ranks the media in both countries as “Not Free.” The Honduras situation, however, is based on the chaos following the 2009 coup and media intimidation continues by corrupt elements in the government and business community. But the Honduras government does not control the press, unlike the Syrian situation.
And look at Singapore. It is one of the least corrupt countries (#5) but is also listed as “Not Free” in the Freedom House scale.
Still, in general the countries least perceived to be corrupt are also the ones with the most press freedom.
Here is a list of the 10 best and worst in corruption and press freedom:
Least Corrupt Countries
|Most Press Freedom||Most Corrupt Countries||
Least Press Freedom
|New Zealand||Finland||Somalia||North Korea|
It is always difficult — and often misleading — to make such comparisons. But sometimes the results back up common sense.
If a country has a vibrant and free press and a democracy, there are fewer chances for corruption to take hold and dominate the country’s economy and society. If, however, the media are controlled by the government, then there is no independent check on government power or corruption.
*There seems to be a problem getting the charts and tables for the 2011 report. However, a review of the individual country reports for 2011 show no significant changes in the top and bottom 10 countries.
Oh, by the way: All of this does matter to U.S. news outlets because American companies invest heavily abroad. It would be nice to know more about the countries where that investment takes place. And not to mention that U.S. taxpayers’ money is also spent in countries to help them develop. A major portion of that assistance is a commitment to ending corruption and establishing a civic society that includes independent and free media.
And lastly, The Guardian has a wonder map and table of the Transparency International data in their DATA blog section.