Kept at a distance by the government
Norway has for years been at or near the top of all democracy and free speech rankings. In 2020, Norway’s parliamentarians asked the government to issue an annual assessment of the state of freedom of expression and press freedom. They also requested regular updates on media policy implementation. A new media responsibility law that has just taken effect is portrayed by the authorities as the most important piece of legislation in years for media editors because it defines their freedoms and responsibilities. But some thought it was poorly structured, fragmentary and confusing. The pandemic’s arrival tested relations between media and authorities. Media representatives criticised the lack of access to important information and accused authorities of applying their confidentiality obligations in an overly rigid manner. The government was also criticised for refusing to publish the data and professional assessments on which it was basing its crisis management. Restrictions on covering the pandemic’s impact in hospitals resulted in a very low level of photographic documentation of the biggest crisis to hit Norway in peacetime. Media representatives also criticised the tendency for elected bodies and courts to hold virtual meetings and hearings, which in some cases clearly undermined the constitutional principle of public access to information.
1 in 2020
7.84 in 2020