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Finland falls to fifth in World Press Freedom index

After years at second place, a change in criteria drops Finland down the rankings.

Eri medioiden mikkejä pöydällä.
Among the Nordic countries, Norway, Denmark and Sweden are ahead of Finland in press freedom. Image: Silja Viitala / Yle, kuvankäsittely: Otso Ritonummi / Yle
Yle News

Finland dropped from second to fifth on the annual World Press Index released by Reporters Without Borders on Tuesday.

Fifth place is Finland's weakest ranking since 2007, with the Nordic nation ranking consistently second in the index since 2019.

Norway received the best score for press freedom with Denmark, Sweden, and Estonia also ahead of Finland.

Finland's decline in the index is partially due to the fact that there are new and revised criteria for the index, which means that it is difficult to compare previous years' indices to this year's.

Finland scores worse than Norway in terms of the legal framework and economic conditions, pointed out Yrsa Grüne-Luoma, chair of the Finnish Reporters Without Borders Association.

"At least behind these rankings are the charges received by three Helsingin Sanomat journalists last autumn and the increasing financial concentration of the media," Grüne-Luoma said to Yle.

According to Grüne-Luoma, Finland's score clearly lags behind Norway and Denmark, but is close to that of Sweden and Estonia.

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Increasingly fragmented media

The Press Freedom Index compares the state of press freedom in 180 countries and divides them into five categories.

This year, only eight countries reached the "good" category— Norway, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Ireland, Portugal, and Costa Rica. Fewer countries reached the "good" category than ever before in the index's 20-year history.

According to Reporters Without Borders, media polarisation significantly threatened press freedom last year. Christophe Deloire, the organisation's director general, warned of the so-called "Fox News model," in which the media attracts audience share with extreme opinions.

"This model's proliferation throughout the media is a death threat to democracies because it undermines the foundations for internal harmony within societies and tolerant public debate," Deloire said in an organisation statement.

According to Reporters Without Borders, disinformation spread on social media also accelerates the polarisation of people's opinions to extreme levels.

The organisation further warned that the dangers of polarisation are evident in the war in Ukraine, where Russia utilised propaganda prior to their invasion.

"Using the media as a weapon eliminates citizens' right to information and can lead to increased tensions, and at worst, wars," said Deloire.

Let us know what you think of press freedom in Finland in the comments below. You'll need an Yle ID to join the discussion, which you can sign up for here. Comments are open on a trial basis until 13 May, and moderated between 10 and 17:30 each weekday.

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