The world’s first country to adopt a press freedom law (in 1776), Sweden ranks among those that most respect media independence and has a media ombudsman to address complaints and ethical issues. But that doesn’t mean its journalists aren’t subjected to threats, online hatred and gag suits. Media ownership is also very concentrated, with six owners controlling more than 90% of the daily press. In 2020, Swedish media and journalists were attacked by the Chinese embassy (over issues linked to human rights) and by Hungary (because a media outlet criticised its coronavirus measures). Journalists from Turkey and Iran living in self-imposed exile in Sweden were also the targets of threats and attacks from their countries of origin. Dawit Isaak, a journalist with Swedish and Eritrean dual citizenship, has been jailed without trial in Eritrea since 2001. No other journalist in the world has been detained for such a long time just for doing his job. And an author and publisher with Swedish and Chinese dual citizenship, Gui Minhai, has been imprisoned since 2015 in China, where he has been sentenced to 10 years in prison on spurious charges. Changes in the media sector accelerated as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Print media are going online and their economic model is switching from advertising to subscription. The pandemic had a negative impact on the Swedish principle of openness because the authorities prevented the media from seeing state-held documents about the pandemic. A fall in advertising earnings created financial difficulties for several media, and state subsidies more than doubled. But the pandemic also increased interest in the news, with Swedish society seeing the importance of factual, relevant reporting.
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3in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index
4 in 2020
9.25 in 2020