Norway and the other Nordic countries enjoy the highest levels of press freedom in the world, according to a survey by Reporters Without Borders, an international watchdog group. Its annual ranking of 180 countries also found that independent journalism is fully or partly blocked in 73 percent of them.
Norway tops the ranking for the fifth year in a row, even though its media have complained of a lack of access to state-held information about the Corona pandemic, according to Reporters Without Borders. With Finland, Sweden and Denmark in the next three spots, “the 2021 index demonstrates the success of these Nordic nations’ approach towards upholding press freedom, ” the survey stated.
At the opposite end of the index, China hovers near the bottom, indicating how leaders of the world’s second-largest economy allow little if any press freedom. China is trailed only by Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea.
According to Reporters Without Borders, the Corona pandemic has been used by many governments as an excuse to block media access to information sources and reporting in the field.
The index, published annually, tracks a number of indicators of media freedom such as political pluralism, media independence, legislative framework , transparency and the quality of the infrastructure supporting information gathering and news production. The quality of the journalism itself is not among the criteria.
Although Northern Europe does fairly well in this year’s survey, there are worrying trends. Germany fell by two spots, to 13th position, after several attacks on reporters by extremists and conspiracy-theory believers during protests against Corona restrictions. The US fell one place to 44th, because of a record number of assaults on reporters, plus numerous arrests.