Press freedom in Europe is on the decline. This is happening for a number of reasons, including the rise in right-wing populism, concentration of media ownership, and growing political influence on the press. Meanwhile, some governments continue to work on curbing critical and independent journalism, with journalists in several countries such as Slovenia, Hungary, and Greece hindered from doing their work. Data on European press freedom revealed that 16 countries in the region had a press freedom index score of under 70 in 2022, and just seven were given a score over 85.
Consequences of declining press freedom
Political interference in the press, be that censorship, funding, or government ownership, can threaten editorial independence and media plurality, affecting the objectivity and trustworthiness of content delivered to consumers. Trust in the news media is already shaky – a study found that in several European countries, less than 50 percent of consumers felt that the news could mostly be relied upon.
The problem of fake news is also growing, and audiences need reassurance that news outlets and journalists are legitimate and impartial. Indeed, a survey showed that consumers in the EMEA region were most likely to trust online news if they knew that the source was independent and unbiased. The worse the press freedom situation becomes, the higher the chance that consumers will struggle to access neutral information.
Journalists also face challenges
Working as a journalist in the current climate is no mean feat, and the latest data exemplifies the severity of the current situation. More than 100 journalists in Italy were subject to threats between the summers of 2020 and 2021. This was in part linked to organized crime, one of several factors negatively impacting press freedom across the country. At the same time, press freedom in Greece is under threat as a result of a politically polarized press landscape and aggression and violence towards journalists.
Poor or decreasing press freedom has serious consequences, and although most European countries enjoy far greater freedom of the press than those in other world regions, the situation should not be allowed to deteriorate further. If left unchecked and even well-established democracies continue to monitor and restrict the press, this could lead to higher numbers of independent and local news outlet closures, increased censorship and media convergence, growth in the number of reprisals against journalists, and a drop in the availability of accurate, unbiased news. Such developments would see press freedom fall further into decline, and that particular news story is one the world could do without.
This text provides general information. Statista assumes no
liability for the information given being complete or correct.
Due to varying update cycles, statistics can display more up-to-date
data than referenced in the text.