16 July, 2018 / By Liz Braun, torontosun.com
The Finnish people are the coolest.
To welcome Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin and help them acclimate during meetings in Helsinki, the largest newspaper in all the Nordic countries has paved the route from the airport to the summit with special billboards — reminding both leaders they are in the land of a free press.
The media is not bullied in Finland.
Helsingin Sanomat, the largest newspaper across Denmark, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Greenland, has put up billboards with news headlines about both men and their bad attitude toward freedom of the press. The newspaper has taken almost 300 individual outdoor media spots to run items from the years 2000- 2018; each spot showcases both Trump and Putin’s lousy relationship with the media.
Kaius Niemi, senior editor-in-chief of Helsingin Sanomat, says the goal is to raise the topic of the freedom of the press around the world. It’s also to show support to fellow journalists in both the U.S. and Russia, as they continue to fight ever-more-difficult circumstances. Media around the world were in shock last week when Trump dismissed CNN as ‘fake news’ at a press conference in the UK.
Said Niemi, “This is a statement on behalf of critical and high quality journalism. As we welcome the presidents to the summit in Finland, we want to remind them of the importance of free press. The media shouldn’t be the lapdog of any president or regime.”
Trump trashes the media on a regular basis, preferring the fabrications of Fox over all else. He has, for example, called a free press the “Enemy of the people.”
Lest Canadians get too smug about their own free press, a world-wide ranking of 180 countries — the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index — puts our country at a disappointing 18th.
On the plus side, Canada is back in the top 20 (we slipped to 22 last year). On the negative side, the report says we still have issues, and despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau strongly advocating for a free media, as guaranteed under our constitution, Reporters Without Borders say his first two years in office are a disappointment.
(Why? “A VICE News reporter is still fighting a court order compelling him to hand over communications with his source to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, while another journalist for The Independent is facing criminal and civil charges for his coverage of protests against a hydroelectric project in Labrador,” says the report. It also cites the recent closing of 40 independent newspapers across Canada and says this risks compromising media pluralism in the country.)
Russia, where a free media has ceased to exist during Putin’s dictatorship, is ranked 148th on the list; the U.S. ranking is an embarrassing 45th.
The top three countries where press freedom rules are Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands, with Finland in 4th place and Switzerland in 5th.
The worst countries on earth for a free press are Eritrea (179), Turkmenistan (178) and Syria (177).
Dead last at #180?
North Korea, of course.
Read the list here: https://rsf.org/en/ranking_table
THE TOP 20 COUNTRIES WHERE A FREE PRESS REIGNS
8 New Zealand
10 Costa Rica
45 United States
180 North Korea