More and more democratically elected world leaders have openly sought to fuel a climate of hatred toward the media over the last 12 months, according to a study.
The latest annual world press freedom index, compiled by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), found a growing sense of "hostility" toward the media was "no longer limited to authoritarian countries."
The index, published Wednesday, highlighted a "slow erosion" of press freedom in Europe and an increasing amount of unprecedented attacks on journalists in democratically elected governments.
"The unleashing of hatred towards journalists is one of the worst threats to democracies," RSF Secretary-General Christophe Deloire said.
"Political leaders who fuel loathing for reporters bear heavy responsibility because they undermine the concept of public debate based on facts instead of propaganda. To dispute the legitimacy of journalism today is to play with extremely dangerous political fire," he added.