Swiss press free but struggling to survive, report finds

Still a nation of print media: a newsstand in Zurich. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

Despite funding troubles, Switzerland stays in the top 10 nations for press freedom, while the global situation continues to be problematic, according to Reporters without Borders (RSF).

This content was published on April 21, 2020 - 12:48

Although Switzerland dropped from 6th to 8th in the 2020 ranking, this was not due to a worse score, but rather to gains made by Jamaica and Costa Rica, the NGO reported on Tuesday.

Overall, as per last year, the Alpine nation remains part of a group of 14 countries in the “white zone”, where press freedom is completely guaranteed. The top four spots are all occupied by the Scandinavian countries; at the other end of the list come Eritrea, Turkmenistan, and North Korea.

Nevertheless, economic troubles continue to dog Swiss media, and RSF remains critical of the “accelerating concentration” of newspapers within fewer big publishing houses; this reduces diversity of voices, particularly regionally, and can hamper the process of opinion-forming necessary in a (direct) democracy, it says.

It also criticised the decision by the Swiss government not to grant emergency funding to Swiss media hit by the current coronavirus crisis. Though the question of support will be discussed by parliament at a later stage, media groups are suffering under plummeting advertising revenue during the current crisis, RSF says.

Some newspapers in the country have slimmed print offerings since the crisis hit, while others have put staff and journalists on short-term unemployment.

Globally, RSF notes a similar picture to last year, writing that press freedom is suffering in many countries under governments that either suppress information, undermine trust in the press, or imprison journalists.

The report does not measure the journalistic quality of media, but rather its level of freedom. The methodology is available online here.

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