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Nordic countries top 2021 World Press Freedom Index

The Nordics are doing well in protecting the freedom of speech. Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark are once again at the top of the list of the 2021 World Press Freedom Index

The Nordic countries top this year's Press Freedom Index: #1 Norway, #Sweden, #Finland and #4 Denmark. Why do the Nordic countries regularly lead the rankings for media freedom?

In 2019 representatives of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT) visited Denmark and Sweden to try to answer exactly this question.

The main findings were as follows:

Media ownership: Media outlets owned by self-governed foundations with the explicit aim of supporting media freedom and professional journalism are a promising concept and should be supported with the respective legislation.

Journalists’ trade unions: The remarkable density concentration of union membership helps to protect journalists from the volatility of the market. It also fosters media ethics and generates political support for media pluralism.

Media subsidies from the state: Platform-neutral media subsidies based on the “arm’s length principle” are an instrument to support media pluralism. To incorporate the digital transformation they should focus on innovation.

Public Service Media: The trust in public service media derives from editorial independence and a strong dialogue with the audience in each age-group. The Swedish Public Service Television SVT is a good example of how to do it.

Media accountability systems: Self- and co-regulatory frameworks in the media sector are key to support ethical journalism. The Nordic media councils are exemplary because of their composition, independence and transparency.

National legislations: The constitutional, civil and criminal law regarding media freedom helps to avoid defamation cases and thereby encourages investigative journalists, having also a solid right of access to public documents, to hold the elites accountable.


Read more about the 2021 World Press Freedom Index here: