The Netherlands has risen from 28th to 6th place in the global press freedom ranking that Reporters Without Borders (RSF) publishes annually. The organization announced this on Wednesday. Only Norway, Ireland, Denmark, Sweden and Finland are above the Netherlands.
The free fall that the Netherlands made in the ranking last year has been reversed with this increase. The murder of Peter R. de Vries played a role then, as did violence against camera journalists during demonstrations. Ruth Kronenburg, director of the Dutch Free Press Unlimited, says in a statement that the Netherlands belongs in the top 10.
RSF still sees plenty of room for improvement, according to a concise summary of the outcome of the panel survey among experts and academics. The main concerns are attacks by populist parties on the media, lack of government transparency and physical and verbal violence against journalists. Journalists are also harassed online, writes RSF, especially women and reporters of color.
Checkmarks for payment
Russia has dropped nine places since last year and is now in 164th place. According to RSF, the Kremlin has rigged a “new media arsenal” to spread its message in occupied parts of Ukraine, and the last independent media outlets in the country are being suppressed more than ever.
Peru, where journalists are “harassed, attacked and blackmailed” because of their contacts with politicians, dropped 33 places (now ranks 110) and is therefore the largest faller. Brazil just climbed 18 places (now at 92) thanks to the departure of former president Jair Bolsonaro, “whose presidency was marked by extreme hostility towards journalists.”
Worldwide, RSF sees a growing “industry” of digital disinformation blurring the line between fact and fiction, making reliable information less accessible. Politicians have “unprecedented resources for tampering with information,” and use them to undermine journalists.
Elon Musk, who took over Twitter in October, receives a dishonorable mention in the report. According to RSF, his policy of providing check marks against payment shows that online platforms are “quicksand for journalism”.
Read also A new measuring method and a murdered journalist cause a free fall in the press freedom ranking