Media freedom made in Scandinavia - examples of best practice
Launch of fact-finding "Best Practice" report on Denmark and Sweden

Leipzig, 7 May 2020 - While many European governments use the Covid19 crisis to massively restrict media freedom, the report of a fact-finding mission to Scandinavia shows policies and approaches that can inspire change for the better. Representatives of the European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF), the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and Osservatorio Balcani e Caucaso Transeuropa (OBCT) visited Denmark and Sweden from 15 to 18 December 2019. They followed the questions: why does Scandinavia regularly lead the rankings for media freedom? What can governments and media actors in other countries learn and adopt from this region?

In summarising the report, ECPMF’s managing director, Lutz Kinkel, who was part of the Mission, had this to say: “It is our daily business to monitor violations of press and media freedom, especially during critical periods like the COVID-19 crisis. With this mission we wanted to look at the other side of the coin. The six best practices we found can serve as an inspiration to restore and improve the environment for media freedom and professional journalism after the crisis”.

The main findings of the fact-finding mission include:
  • Media ownership: Media outlets owned by self-governed foundations with the explicit aim of supporting media freedom and professional journalism are a promising concept and should be supported with the respective legislation.
  • Journalists’ trade unions: The remarkable density concentration of union membership helps to protect journalists from the volatility of the market. It also fosters media ethics and generates political support for media pluralism. 
  • Media subsidies from the state: Platform-neutral media subsidies based on the “arm’s length principle” are an instrument to support media pluralism. To incorporate the digital transformation they should focus on innovation.
  • Public Service Media: The trust in public service media derives from editorial independence and a strong dialogue with the audience in each age-group. The Swedish Public Service Television SVT is a good example of how to do it.
  • Media accountability systems: Self- and co-regulatory frameworks in the media sector are key to support ethical journalism. The Nordic media councils are exemplary because of their composition, independence and transparency.
  • National legislations: The constitutional, civil and criminal law regarding media freedom helps to avoid defamation cases and thereby encourages investigative journalists, having also a solid right of access to public documents, to hold the elites accountable.
The participants of the mission conducted in depth interviews with a series of experts, including Tine Johansen, President of the Danish Union of Journalists, 
Mark Blach-Ørsten, Professor of Journalism at Roskilde University, Stig Kirk Ørskov, Chief Executive Officer of JP/Politikens Hus and Mart Ots, Professor at Jönköping University and member of the Swedish Media Subsidies Council.
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The full report can be downloaded here.
Press Contacts:

ECPMF: Renata Rat,, +49 341 200 403 17  
EFJ: Camille Petit,, +32 2 235 22 39
OBCT: Nicole Corritore,, +39 347 37 27 405
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The European Centre for Press and Media Freedom (ECPMF) is a non-profit European Cooperative Society, based in Leipzig, Germany. The ECPMF was founded in 2015 to promote the European Charter on Freedom of the Press throughout Europe. The ECPMF helps shaping a common European media space. It preserves, defends, protects and expands press- and media freedom by monitoring the state of free media in Europe, advocating on media freedom issues, initiating diverse activities and providing practical support to journalists at risk.

The ECPMF is supported by: European Commission, Media Foundation of Sparkasse Leipzig, Free State of Saxony, the City of Leipzig and diverse project funding.
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European Centre for Press and Media Freedom SCE ltd

Menckestraße 27
04155 Leipzig, Germany

Phone: +49 341 200 403 13

Cooperative register of the District Court Leipzig: GnR 534

Executive Board:  

Henrik Kaufholz (Chair),
Stephan Seeger, 
Ljiljana Smajlović,
Mogens Blicher Bjerregårds, 
Galina Arapova

Chair of Supervisory Board:

Lucie Sýkorová

Managing Director:
Dr Lutz Kinkel