North European countries have the most press freedom, according to the yearly ranking of Reporters Without Borders (RSF), published Thursday.
Austria fell several slots in the ranking, from number five to number 12. In the Middle East and north Africa, the situation for journalists - two years after the "Arab Spring" - was still sobering.
Austria's poor perfomance was because of the "increasingly difficult economic situation of high quality media, as well as the economic pressure on editors and journalists," said the RSF. There was also "press funding that was primarily market-oriented," as well as attempts from politicians to influence the Austrian national television and radio ORF by filling posts with certain people, said the watchdog.
In 2012, Hungary and Greece also performed very poorly. Hungary was down to 56th place, after the implementation of several highly criticized media laws aimed at censoring government-critical content. Greece slid from 70 to 84. RSF said that journalists there suffered increasing attacks from extremist groups.
The "freest" countries were still Finland, the Netherlands, and Norway. The biggest decline was in Mali, which was among the best with press freedom for many years. Since the military coup and the power grab of Islamist extremists in the north of the country, many radio stations had to close.