Few industries have changed as much in recent years as media and journalism. In the United States, the rise of unregulated online platforms and the decline of print journalism have coincided with growing political polarization across news outlets – and these changes have had meaningful consequences.
A recent Gallup poll found that only 34% of Americans have a great deal or a fair amount of trust in mass media, down from 54% just 20 years ago. The erosion of public trust in the Fourth Estate in the last two decades has occurred alongside a decline in overall freedom of the press.
The independent journalism advocacy group Reporter Without Borders, or RSF, defines press freedom as the ability of journalists and media outlets to report news and information to serve the public interest without political, economic, legal or social interference, or threats to their physical and mental safety and well-being. The RSF 2022 World Press Freedom Index ranks the United States 42nd in the world for press freedom, down from 17th in the world in 2002.
The changes evident in America’s media landscape have not had the same impact in many other countries, however, and in many parts of the world, the journalism ecosystem remains healthy. (Here is a look at the best countries to move to.)
Using 2022 data from the RSF 2022 World Press Freedom Index, 24/7 Wall St. identified the 25 countries with the most press freedom based on their index score, which RSF calculated using press survey data (the RSF reviewed 180 countries). We added GDP per capita and population data from the World Bank.
The index is broken into five subcategories: political context, which measures independence from political pressure; legal framework, a measure of journalistic censorship, discrimination, and legal protections; economic context, which accounts for the overall media business environment; sociocultural context, which includes the press’s ability to cover certain issues that may run counter to the prevailing culture; and safety, a measure of the press’ ability to report without fear of mental, physical, or personal harm.
The countries on this list are largely democracies, and most are generally wealthy. Though some are located in Africa, Asia, Oceania, and North America, the vast majority are in Europe. (Here is a look at the countries the U.S. government doesn’t want you to go to.)
Click here to see the best countries for press freedom, according to reporters without borders.
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