In a large part of the world, journalists are facing increased hostility, but progress in Africa is a sign for hope. That’s according to the latest World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.
For the first time in three years, North Korea no longer ranked last in Reporters Without Borders’ annual World Press Freedom Index published Thursday. Instead, it is Turkmenistan that has captured the bottom spot in 2019.
Once again, Norway tops the global ranking, followed by Finland and Sweden.
The Netherlands dropped out of the top three, and Austria, dropped five spots to 16th place. Last year, the right-wing populist Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ), which constantly antagonizes the press, entered the country’s coalition government. In September, Austria’s Ministry of the Interior, led by the FPÖ’s Herbert Kickl, issued a directive that communication with certain media critical of the government should be kept to a minimum.
In Hungary, which fell 14 spots to 87 on the list, the situation is similar; Bulgaria was the only European Union country to rank lower, remaining at its spot of 111.
This downward trend among EU states is particularly noticeable for Malta, which fell 12 places to 77, and Slovakia, which dropped eight spots to 35.
The Central African Republic saw the biggest decline in the press freedom index — a drop of 33 places.
Some countries have made progress when it comes to fostering press freedom. Ethiopia had the largest increase, jumping 40 places to 110. Gambia rose 30 places to 92, one year after the African state saw a transition of power.