Norwegian journalists work in the third best country for press freedom. Photo: Lise Åserud/NTB Scanpix
The RSF’s annual World Press Freedom Index ranked Norway as the world’s third best country for a free press, behind only Finland and the Netherlands.
At the bottom of the list was what the RSF called the “infernal trio” of Turkmenistan (178th), North Korea (179th) and Eritrea (180th).
The RSF pointed out that press freedom is a long-standing tradition in Norway.
“Article 100 of Norway’s 1814 constitution prepared the ground for media freedom,” the report stated. “The Media Ownership Act, an anti-concentration law adopted in 1997, bans leading media groups such as Egmont, Schibsted and Amedia from owning more than 40 percent of the shares in any TV station, radio station or newspaper. State subsidies for the media are indirect for general news print media (which are also VAT exempt) and direct for print media specializing in opinion pieces.”
Although Norway was near the very top, its third place finish was one slot lower than last year’s ranking.
On a global scale, RSF warned that “a climate of fear and tension” and increased government control seriously threatens the future of journalism.
The report pointed to the “increasingly authoritarian tendencies” of governments in countries including Turkey and Egypt and deteriorating security situations for journalists in global hotspots as key factors dragging down media freedom around the world.
“It is unfortunately clear that many of the world’s leaders are developing a form of paranoia about legitimate journalism,” RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.
The report said that every continent saw its press freedom scores decline since the last annual report. Europe, it said, is on “a downhill course”.
RSF said that European media is increasingly falling under the control of conglomerates at the same time that European governments are cracking down on press freedoms.
The World Press Freedom Index is based on questionnaires completed by journalists in 180 countries. The full report can be accessed here.