Reporters Without Borders has published its annual Press Freedom Index, with three Nordic countries topping it: Norway, Finland, and Sweden. However, the number of countries regarded as safe for journalists continues to decline.
Each year, Reporters Without Borders measures the situation for press freedom in 180 countries. According to this year’s Index, the number of countries where journalists can work in safety is decreasing.
Only a quarter of the countries are classified as “good” or “fairly good” in terms of freedom of the press (a decrease from 26 to 24 per cent). In the five Nordic countries, the situation is defined as “good”.
Four Nordic countries among the top five
Norway is ranked first in the 2019 Index for the third year running, followed by Finland and Sweden. Denmark is fifth (after the Nether-lands), while Iceland is ranked 14th.
Finland has stepped up two places after standing up for press freedom and against hate speech .
Finland's improvement comes after two years of scandals having nudged the country down the list. In 2016, Finland fell from the top down to third place, due to Prime Minister Juha Sipilä's political pressure on the public service company Yle (read more in Anu Koivunen's article on #Sipilägate, from 2017). In 2017, the country fell to fourth place due to the police search of a newspaper journalist’s home.
Due to increasing online harassment, Sweden is down one place in the 2019 Index; and Iceland has also fallen one place. Meanwhile, Denmark's fifth place is a recovery after last year's fall from fourth to ninth place, caused by the murder of the journalist Kim Wall.
A worsening media climate
Europe is still the world's safest region for journalists to work in. Nonetheless, threats to press freedom are increasing. Serious threats to journalists are more common, and journalists have been murdered in Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Malta.
In the United States (48th), press freedom is under attack. An increasingly hostile climate towards journalists, including death threats, has made the country fall three places in the Index, and the media climate is now classified as “problematic”.
Russia (149th) and Turkey (157th) continue to persecute independent media outlets, and Turkey is referred to as "the world’s biggest jailer of professional journalists".
At the bottom of the Press Freedom Index is Turkmenistan, in company with North Korea and Eritrea.
Read more on Reporters Without Borders’ website:
The World Press Freedom Index 2019 - ranking
General Analysis: 2019 World Press Freedom Index – A cycle of fear
More about the methodology
 See the Union of Journalists in Finland’s news feed:
READ MORE: The Assault on Journalism
Building knowledge to protect freedom of expression
To support joint efforts to protect journalism, there is a growing need for research-based knowledge. Acknowleding this need, the aim of this publication is to highlight and fuel journalist safety as a field of research, to encourage worldwide participation, as well as to inspire further dialogues and new research initiatives.
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