In Switzerland, freedom of the press has a high priority

Switzerland remains one of the world's best protected countries for press freedom. But as in the rest of the world, journalism is entering a decisive decade. The Corona crisis is also leaving its mark.

Pressefreiheit

Although Switzerland has dropped from 6th to 8th place in the current year's press freedom ranking, the organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) announced on Tuesday. However, the index remained constant in the annual ranking.

The decisive factor for the drop of two places was that Jamaica and Costa Rica made significant gains in their press freedom indices. Switzerland remains in the "white zone" of countries where press freedom is fully guaranteed.

The press freedom ranking is led by Norway, Finland and Denmark. Germany is in 11th place. Switzerland's other neighboring countries do less well. Austria is in 18th place, France in 34th and Italy in 41st.

 

Difficult position of the media

However, the Swiss media are concerned because the economic situation is deteriorating rapidly. RSF denounces the accelerated concentration in the Swiss press. The diversity of titles is decreasing. Regional reporting, which is particularly important in direct democracy for shaping public opinion, is under great pressure, it says.

In addition, the coronavirus pandemic is turning into an economic disaster for the media. Advertising revenues are disappearing at breakneck speed. The RSF criticizes the Federal Council for refusing to help the media with emergency aid. The ball is now in Parliament's court.

 

Attack on a journalist

It is worrying that journalists are increasingly facing attacks from outside. Recently, for example, the entourage of Cameroonian President Paul Biya attacked a journalist from French-speaking Switzerland's radio and television station in Geneva.

Furthermore, government representatives in the cantons of Vaud and Geneva had taken legal action against journalists. And one journalist was convicted of trespassing. She had wanted to write a report in a house occupied by activists.

 

Crisis of democracy

In general, hostility toward journalists is on the rise worldwide. A crisis of democracy is on the horizon. Elected representatives of the people, such as U.S. President Donald Trump or Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, are fueling distrust of the media with fake news.

Weakened by the crisis of confidence, journalists were targeted by angry citizens at demonstrations. In France, they had become victims of police violence.

 

Call for mobilization

"All these crises mean that the next ten years will be crucial," says Christophe Deloire, RSF secretary general. "What will freedom, pluralism and reliability of information look like by 2030? The answer to that question is at stake today."

According to Deloire, authoritarian governments are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to take measures against press freedom that would be impossible in normal times. The world's population is called upon to defend itself against such attacks so that journalists can continue to do their work. (SDA)

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