Why Estonia fell in press freedom ranking
Estonia has fallen from 3rd to 11th place in press freedom

Mart Raudsaar

PHOTO: Sille Annuk / Postimees

Estonian Newspaper Association’s managing director Mart Raudsaar sees three main trends in the government and among politicians, which cost Estonia eight places in press freedom ranking.

According to a report by Reporters Without Borders, Estonia has fallen from 3rd to 11th place in press freedom; the report doesn’t offer reasons.

«Well, to put it simply, the index points at whether the government is in any way attempting to influence the way media works; and whether the media is sufficiently independent, economically,» said Mr Raudsaar.

«Well, to put it simply, the index points at whether the government is in any way attempting to influence the way media works; and whether the media is sufficiently independent, economically.»

Raudsaar listed three reasons he can immediately think of.

«The first reason is the bill for toughening punishment for so-called hate crimes, as it remains largely obscure, where a hate crime begins and where it ends; and whether it could be used to suppress the media,» he explained.

«Another point was how, last year, some politicians spoke up on use of language by journalists, especially those employed by Estonian Public Broadcasting. The talk was, that it should somehow be regulated,» added Mr Raudsaar.

Thirdly, he pointed out that there was quite a bit of criticism in Estonia last year and attacks at self regulation of the media.

«The press council works very well, but they have spoken about the need to create some kind of a new regulator,» explained Mr Raudsaar. «The question arises: if there should be a new regulator, set over and above all media, not being the media’s self regulation by nature – then what is it? Where will the new regulators come from, and how will it be guaranteed that the media will not come under political and economic dependence?»

In light of the aforesaid reasons, the fall of Estonia in the listing is no surprise to Mr Raudsaar.

«I think we are at a good position right now, we are in good company. We do not rank low. The tendency, however, might be a cause for worry.»

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