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Index: Finland one of only eight countries with good press freedom situation

Finland continues to offer some of the most extensive press freedoms in the world, indicates the latest edition of Reporters Without Borders’ Press Freedom Index.

Adobe / Gorodenkoff

Finland fell three spots from second to fifth in the Press Freedom Index, an annual ranking of the press-freedom records of countries published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).

While the country’s overall score of 88.42 fell well short of the two best-performing countries, Norway (92.65) and Denmark (90.27), it was within half a points of third-placed Sweden (88.84) and fourth-placed Estonia (88.83), noted Yrsa Grüne-Luoma, executive director of Reporters Without Borders Finland.

The slide, she gauged, may be partly attributable to the new index methodology, but also to somewhat underwhelming performance in terms of the legal and economic operating prerequisites for journalism, including the growing centralisation of the media.

The top 10 of the index was rounded out by Ireland (88.30), Portugal (87.07), Costa Rica (85.92), Lithuania (84.14) and Liechtenstein (84.03). The press freedom situation, though, was rated good – the highest rating in the index – in only the top eight countries, the lowest total in the 20-year history of the index.

“The ‘Fox News-isation’ of the media poses a fatal danger for democracies because it undermines the basic civil harmony and tolerant public debate,” saidChristophe Deloire, secretary general at RSF.

“Urgent decisions are needed in response to these issues, promoting a new deal for journalism, as proposed by the Forum on Information and Democracy, and adopting an appropriate legal framework, with a system to protect democratic online information spaces,” she underlined.

RSF has supplemented its methodology with five new indicators to better reflect the complexity of press freedoms: the political context, legal framework, economic context, sociocultural context and security. The indicators are assessed in each of the 180 countries and territories indexed through a quantitative survey of press freedom violations and abuses against journalists and the media, and the responses of hundreds of experts to a 123-item questionnaire.

The index defines press freedom as “the effective possibility for journalists, as individuals and groups, to select, produce and disseminate news and information in the public interest, independently from political, economic, legal and social interference and without threats to their physical and mental safety”.

By: Aleksi Teivainen