Switzerland maintains press freedoms in 'post-truth' era
Switzerland is still one of the world’s top ten countries for press freedom according to Reporters Without Borders (RSF), despite global media freedom in the ‘post-truth’ era being more threatened than ever.
The country places seventh in RSF’s World Press Freedom Index 2017, the same as last year, a recognition that it “still enjoys an impressive level of media freedom”, the report’s authors said.
However the RSF pointed to the “period of turmoil” facing Switzerland’s media at the moment due to the closure of two major weeklies – Schweiz am Sonntag and L'Hebdo – and a significant loss of jobs at several other titles in the past year.
The Index also highlighted the Swiss government’s current debate over the mandate of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SRG-SSR) and the future of Billag, the licence paid by the public. A potential 2018 referendum could see the end of Billag and therefore the end of SRG-SSR, it said.
Norway topped this year’s Index, followed by Sweden, Finland – which dropped to third after five years in the top spot – Denmark and the Netherlands.
Image: Reporters Without Borders
Switzerland’s stable press freedom is in contrast to the global situation which has worsened in nearly two thirds of the 180 countries in the Index, said RSF.
The number of countries where the media freedom situation was ‘good’ or ‘fairly good’ has fallen by 2.3 percent.
The Index “reflects a world in which attacks on the media have become commonplace and strongmen are on the rise. We have reached the age of post-truth, propaganda, and suppression of freedoms,” it said.
Press freedom has retreated wherever an authoritarian model has triumphed, it added. While the decline is not new, “what is striking in this year’s Index is the scale and the nature of the violations seen”.
Even in Europe, where the media are generally the most free, the situation has declined, particularly in Poland and Hungary.
The US came 43rd, with the report authors pointing to US President Donald Trump’s verbal attacks towards journalists and attempts to block certain media outlets from White House access.
The UK was also criticized over its adoption of the Investigatory Powers Act which “lacks sufficient mechanisms to protect whistleblowers, journalists and their sources”.
“Donald Trump’s rise to power in the United States and the Brexit campaign in the United Kingdom were marked by high-profile media bashing, a highly toxic anti-media discourse that drove the world into a new era of post-truth, disinformation, and fake news,” said the report.
Published since 2002 the World Press Freedom Index measures indicators including pluralism, media independence and respect for the safety and freedom of journalists.