Study Shows Press Freedom Strengthens Society

A new study has found a direct link between countries that strongly uphold the principles of press freedom and a range of other factors including wealth creation, electoral integrity, and the rule of law.  

Analysis has found that the open exchange of information through a free media allows economies to flourish across a wide range of World Bank indicators from internal measures, like manufacturing output and the ease of doing business, to external indicators like foreign direct investment and trade across borders.

The World Press Trends study by WAN-IFRA has found that not only does Gross Domestic Product and Gross National Income rise in line with press freedom, but so do the tax receipts necessary for Government spending.

“Wealth is not just more likely to be created but also more likely to be widely shared in countries where the press is free — as GDP per capita rises and poverty levels decline,” the study says.

The study has found that the health of societies – for example inclusiveness, gender equality, educational achievement, as well as both the wealth of nations – direct foreign investment, trade across borders, GDP – and the fortunes of its people, for example poverty levels and social equality, all rise in countries which have strong press freedom.

Looking at global trends across the industry, this annual study shows the “paradox” across the industry of revenue decline in contrast to a growth in paying audiences for news content.

The report said: “The appetite for quality news is growing. An analysis of data from 248 countries provided by the content analytics firm Chartbeat showed that while traffic from news subscribers remained relatively stable, the number of guest pageviews has increased 76 per cent over the 11 months to Feb 2019.

“This is a clear indication that in a world awash with misinformation, internet users globally are increasingly seeking out news from reliable publishers.”

The study also cited a global survey of 40,000 adults in 40 countries to gauge consumer trust in advertising. Asked to identify the most trustworthy medium for advertising, respondents picked the “printed newspaper” and “local newspaper.”

The piece also highlighted the adoption in New Zealand of a model similar to the News Media Association and BBC’s Local News Partnership as a key example of industry collaboration.