Industries in Depth

6 things to know about press freedom around the world

Andalusia's regional government president Susana Diaz speaks with journalists after her investiture in the Andalusian capital of Seville, southern Spain, June 11, 2015

34 journalists were murdered worldwide last year Image: REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

Charlotte Edmond
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Industries in Depth?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Media, Entertainment and Sport is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Media, Entertainment and Information

A free press is seen as one of the key measures of a healthy democratic society.

But from attacks on journalists by anti-government protesters in France, to outlets being referred to as “fake news”, the media environment in 2019 is becoming increasingly hostile.

On World Press Freedom Day – which celebrates the principles of a free press and this year looks at journalism’s role in democracy and elections – here are six facts about what reporters are facing around the world:

1. 34 journalists were murdered worldwide last year

The number killed in retaliation for their work nearly doubled in 2019 from the previous year, according to figures from the Committee to Protect Journalists. In total, 1,340 people have died doing the job since 1992 – when the records began – and 860 of those have been murdered.

2. The number of reporters in jail remains at record highs

Last year was the third in a row where more than 250 journalists were jailed for their work. More than half of those were imprisoned in Turkey, China and Egypt, according to the committee.

Image: Statista

3. Less than a quarter of the world is regarded as a good place for the media

The 2019 World Press Freedom Index from Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says the state of journalism in more than three-quarters of the 180 countries it researched is either problematic, difficult or very serious. Only 24% of countries are classified as good or fairly good – a slight reduction on last year’s figure.

4. Journalists are facing unprecedented levels of fear and danger

According to RSF, there are a falling number of countries in which the media is able to work in safety without fear or facing violence. And this is true even in supposedly safer regions, such as the US – which was classified as problematic for the first time this year.

Have you read?

5. Scandinavia is home to the most free press

Norway, Finland and Sweden make up the top three countries in the index, while Eritrea, North Korea and Turkmenistan occupy the bottom three places.

  Scandinavian countries are top of the table for press freedom.
Scandinavian countries are top of the table for press freedom. Image: Reporters Without Borders

6. In some countries, things are looking up

In Africa, the rankings of Ethiopia – up 40 places at 110th – and Gambia – up 30 to 92nd – have improved considerably from last year’s index. And more than 100 countries have now adopted freedom of information laws, allowing the public access to knowledge held by government and political institutions, unless there are legitimate reasons for withholding it.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Industries in DepthResilience, Peace and Security
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

How these 5 steel producers are taking action to decarbonize steel production

Mandy Chan and Daniel Boero Vargas

June 25, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Sign in
  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum