Obstacles to press freedom

Reporters Without Borders' lastest Press Freedom Index and World Press Freedom Day on May 3 prompt commentators to take a closer look at freedom of expression and the media around the world. This year they express concern over developments in Austria and the demoralising effect of a spiteful discussion culture.

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Der Standard (AT) /

FPÖ switching to direct attacks

The FPÖ is calling for ORF host Armin Wolf to resign after he compared one of the party's politicians with a depiction of Jews in the Nazi party's anti-Semitic paper Der Stürmer. This isn't the first attack against the journalist, film director David Schalko writes in Der Standard:

“To believe the FPÖ, Armin Wolf is the personification of irresponsible journalism. ... As if criticism of the FPÖ were something impermissible. It doesn't seem to cross their minds that not a day goes by without there being another occasion for just such criticism. With absolutely no justification he's continually being accused of spreading fake news. Since the change of government there has been a consistent effort to ruin his reputation. This new style is first and foremost exemplified by the blatant attacks on the free press. The euphemism 'message control' conceals a world view that is rightly being described as close to that of Orbán and Erdoğan.”

Iltalehti (FI) /

Outrageous feedback initimidates journalists

Although Finland ranks second on Reporters Without Borders' Press Freedom Index, Iltalehti is still worried about press freedom in the country:

“Freedom of expression is being limited by the Finnish citizens themselves - often perhaps unconsciously. ... The feedback journalists receive has become outrageously impertinent within just a short period of time. ... This kind of feedback is tiring, stressful and sometimes even alarming for the recipient. In the worst case journalists may start choosing their words more carefully because they don't want to expose themselves to this anymore. It can also make it more difficult for journalists to find interview partners on controversial issues. Or they may confine themselves to talking about trivial matters in public. ... Then the Finn's freedom of expression will inevitably be limited.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

No free press without a free economy

Whereas press freedom has increased in certain African countries that have liberalised their economies, the situation has considerably worsened in certain Latin American states. Kevin Brookes and Patrick Déry of the Montreal Economic Institute conclude in Le Figaro:

“Economic liberty remains a necessary condition for furthering the development of a market of ideas in which everyone can express themselves. And that, in turn, is a precondition for exercising numerous other rights and freedoms. The international institutions and NGOs which put huge effort and resources into advancing such objectives should take this into account.”