According to the report, journalists were attacked by unidentified individuals, including exasperated local businessmen and passers-by, in at least seven countries in Eastern Europe. "The Institute of Mass Information logged more than 170 physical attacks in Ukraine, representing three-quarters of the press freedom violations registered in the country," Reporters Without Borders said.
According to the report, it wasn't just governments that harassed journalists. The pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns fueled social tension and expressions of animosity towards the media, especially when health crises coincided with elections.
The top ten countries in this year's World Press Freedom Index include Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Jamaica, New Zealand, Portugal, and Switzerland.
Norway is ranked first in the Index for the fifth year running even though its media have complained of a lack of access to state-held information about the pandemic. Finland maintained its position in second place while Sweden (up 1 at 3rd) recovered its third place ranking, which it had yielded to Denmark (down 1 at 4th) last year.
"The 2021 Index demonstrates the success of these Nordic nations' approach towards upholding press freedom," the report reads.
In general, Reporters Without Borders noted that journalism, the main vaccine against disinformation, is completely or partly blocked in 73% of the 180 countries ranked by the organization.
This year's Index, which evaluates the press freedom situation in 180 countries and territories annually, shows that journalism is totally blocked or seriously impeded in 73 countries and constrained in 59 others, which together represent 73% of the countries evaluated.
This year, only 12 of the Index's 180 countries (7%) can claim to offer a favorable environment for journalism, as opposed to 13 countries (8%) last year.
In 2020, Ukraine climbed six spots and ranked 96th in the World Press Freedom Index compiled by Without Borders.
In the first quarter of 2021, IMI experts recorded 50 cases of violations of freedom of speech in Ukraine. Of these, 36 concerned physical aggression against journalists.
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