Norway first for press freedoms

In “post-truth” era, the Nordic country’s press remains strong

Image: Reporters Without Borders
The map for 2017 is darker than in previous years, but Scandinavia remains “faultless.”

The Local

Norway is the top country in the world for press freedom in an era in which global media freedom is coming increasingly under threat, says a new report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

The Scandinavian country tops the rankings with a rating of “faultless” after coming third last year, with the report saying that Norwegian media is “free and journalists are not subject to censorship or political pressure.”

Some journalists have, though, been threatened by Islamic fundamentalists in recent years, says the report.

RSF also cites Norway’s Media Ownership Act, which bans leading media groups from owning more than 40 percent of the shares in any TV station, radio station, or newspaper.

The report also cited the launch in March 2017 of media coalition #ETTMINUTT, a project that aimed at reminding the public of the importance of media pluralism and independence in the provision of reliable news and information.

Norway was followed in the index top five by Sweden, Finland—which dropped to third after five years in the top spot—Denmark, and the Netherlands.

The global situation relating to press freedoms has worsened in nearly two thirds of the 180 countries in the index, said RSF.

The number of countries where the media freedom situation was “good” or “fairly good” has fallen by 2.3 percent.

The index “reflects a world in which attacks on the media have become commonplace and strongmen are on the rise. We have reached the age of post-truth, propaganda, and suppression of freedoms,” it said.

Press freedom has retreated wherever an authoritarian model has triumphed, the RSF report added. While the decline is not new, “what is striking in this year’s index is the scale and the nature of the violations seen.”

Even in Europe, where the media are generally the most free, the situation has declined, particularly in Poland and Hungary.

The U.S. came 43rd, with the report authors pointing to U.S. President Donald Trump’s verbal attacks towards journalists and attempts to block certain media outlets from White House access.

The UK was also criticized over its adoption of the Investigatory Powers Act, which “lacks sufficient mechanisms to protect whistleblowers, journalists, and their sources.”

“Donald Trump’s rise to power in the United States and the Brexit campaign in the United Kingdom were marked by high-profile media bashing, a highly toxic anti-media discourse that drove the world into a new era of post-truth, disinformation, and fake news,” said the report.

Published since 2002, the World Press Freedom Index measures indicators including pluralism, media independence, and respect for the safety and freedom of journalists.

Norway’s claiming of the number one spot is its second success in a major international index this year, having already been named the world’s happiest country.

This article was originally published on The Local.

It also appeared in the May 5, 2017, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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