Map: World press freedom index 2020 from Reports Without Borders
Four Nordic countries top the 2020 Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders. Norway comes first, followed by Finland, Denmark and Sweden. However, globally, free journalism is under attack, and the corona crisis is exacerbating the situation.
Each year, Reporters Without Borders measures the situation for press freedom in 180 countries. In this year’s Index, the situation of press freedom is classified as “good” in only 8 per cent (the same as last year) of the world's countries, compared to “very serious” in 13 per cent (minus two percentage points).
Four Nordic countries at the top
The Nordic countries are still best at press freedom, and for the fourth year running, Norway is ranked first. Finland comes second, Denmark has stepped up two places to third place, while Sweden is ranked four, down one place for the second year in a row, due to increasing online harassment. Iceland is ranked 15th, down one place.
Online harassment is growing not only in Sweden, but in Norway and Finland too, according to the European analysis. The most aggressive harassment of Nordic journalists comes from China and Iran.
Europe is the safest region
Europe remains the world's safest region for journalists to work in. Nonetheless, threats to free journalism are increasing. For example, Poland (62th) and Hungary (89th) fell another three and two places, respectively, in the Index. For both countries, the media climate is classified as "problematic".
At the bottom of the Press Freedom Index are North Korea (180th), Turkmenistan (179th) and Eritrea (178th), just before China (177th).
Five crises plus the Corona crisis
The 2020 Index suggests that the next ten years will be pivotal for press freedom because of converging crises affecting the future of journalism. Five areas of crisis – a geopolitical crisis, a technological crisis, a democratic crisis, a crisis of confidence and an economic crisis – are now compounded by a global public health crisis.
The Covid-19 pandemic provides authoritarian governments with an opportunity to impose measures that would be impossible in normal times, according to the RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire, who urges that “for this decisive decade to not be a disastrous one, people of goodwill, whoever they are, must campaign for journalists to be able to fulfil their role as society’s trusted third parties, which means they must have the capacity to do so”.
Read more on Reporters Without Borders’ website:
Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index: The index ranks the performance of 180 countries according to a range of criteria including media pluralism and independence, respect for the safety and freedom of journalists, and the legislative, institutional and infrastructural environment in which the media operate. The index aims to provide a clear picture of the press freedom situation in individual countries and the world at large. Read more about the methodology.
Media freedom made in Scandinavia – examples of best practice. A report on the fact-finding mission “Best Practice” to Denmark and Sweden, published by European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT). Read Nordicom's article on Media Freedom in Scandinavia
Hands off press freedom: Attacks on media in Europe must not become a new normal. 2020 Annual Report by the partner organisations to the Council of Europe Platform to Promote the Protection of Journalism and Safety of Journalist. Read Hands off press freedom