The Netherlands falls 22 places in Press Freedom Index to lowest ever ranking

The Netherlands falls 22 places in Press Freedom Index to lowest ever ranking

The 2022 report ranking press freedoms in 180 countries around the world has seen the Netherlands fall from sixth place down to 28nd, marking the country’s worst performance since the index’s inception in 2013.

RSF's 2022 World Press Freedom Index

Comprised by the journalists’ association Reporters Without Borders (RSF), the World Press Freedom Index examines freedom of the press in 180 countries worldwide. By surveying a number of experts and analysing data on abuses and acts of violence against journalists, the annual report ranks each country according to how free it is. 

Each country is awarded an overall score out of 100, based on how it performs across five criteria:

  • Political context (i.e. political support for media autonomy)
  • Legal framework (i.e. the legislative and regulatory environment for journalists)
  • Economic context (i.e. economic constraints faced by news outlets)
  • Sociocultural context (i.e. pressure not to question certain institutions)
  • Safety (i.e. physical, psychological, or professional harm faced by journalists)

The 2022 report once again places Norway in first place, albeit with a slightly lower score than last year. This year saw Denmark rise into second place with an overall score of 90,27, with Sweden rounding out the top three. Occupying the bottom spots are Iran (23,22), Eritrea (19,62), and North Korea (13,92). 

Rise in violence against Dutch journalists sees country fall to 28th place

Last year, the Netherlands achieved a respectable sixth-place ranking, and for almost 20 years, the country has managed to hold onto a place in the top 10 of the World Press Freedom Index. However, violence against Dutch journalists has been on the rise over the past 12 months, meaning the country has slipped significantly in this year’s edition of the ranking, falling a whopping 22 places to occupy the 28th spot. 

The country achieved an overall score of 77,93, performing well in the political, economic, and legislative criteria, with the RSF pointing out that “press freedom is actively protected by the state and the government… and there are very few limits on the dissemination of information and opinion.”

However, a rise in polarisation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic and immigration, as well as the assassination of Peter R. de Vries last summer, have had significant effects on the press freedom in the Netherlands. “Polarisation of public opinion… has led to an increase in verbal and physical aggression against journalists, especially photo and camera crews,” which the RSF notes has led to an increase in self-censorship amongst journalists.

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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