Media professionals in both Europe and the US are finding it increasingly difficult. That's what a recent report by the German organization Reporters Without Borders shows. It speaks of a "climate of fear" all over the world.
After 2017 was a sad year for journalism, 2018 is no better for the media. The situation has even worsened in regions that were previously considered safe by global standards. One of the regions where the situation has deteriorated the most is Europe. But the US also slipped further down the rankings. Germany was only able to make up two places in Europe and land in 13th place, because similarly positioned countries such as Austria and Iceland have further declined.
Katja Gloger, spokeswoman for the board of directors of Reporters Without Borders, said:
"In Europe, too, targeted defamation and aggressive, sometimes inflammatory campaigns by populist politicians against the media are leading to real violence, for example in Serbia, a candidate for EU membership, and in the Czech Republic. Whoever makes journalists into scapegoats for social grievances prepares the ground for assaults, assassinations and even murders".
In the US, the agitation with which President Donald Trump has been covering critical media since his inauguration has had an effect, and it continues today. Journalists who call Trump an "enemy of the people" have never before received so many death and bomb threats as they did in 2018. In Germany, 22 attacks against journalists were recorded in the previous year. These attacks were mainly observed around the time of far-right populist events.
Reporters without Borders also critically observed the situation in Austria last year. For example, the Ministry of the Interior, led by the FPÖ, advised the police internally to "limit cooperation with these particular media to the minimum necessary". This refers to media professionals who report critically on the right-wing conservative government and are often branded as "left-wing extremists".
Scandinavia is the leader, dictatorships are the worst
At the top of the rankings for the third time in a row is Norway, followed by Finland and Sweden. Not surprisingly, at the bottom of the ranking are countries under dictatorial rule such as Turkmenistan (rank 180), North Korea (rank 179) and Eritrea (rank 178). The organisation concludes: "The systematic agitation against journalists has resulted in media professionals increasingly working in a climate of fear".
The full report, as well as the ranking of Press Freedom 2019 can be found on the organisation's website.
What do you think of the results of the report? Do you also think that there is an increasing rush against the media in your country? Or are you perhaps journalistically active yourself and have already experienced such hatred at first hand?