This week, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published the organisation’s annual World Press Freedom Index. A record number of countries – namely 28 – got classified as having a “very bad” situation.

In Europe, the North is traditionally on the top of the list, with Norway in the first place, followed by Denmark and Sweden. Baltic countries of Estonia and Lithuania rose significantly, from an already satisfactory base, finding themselves in the top ten. 

At the same time, the situation in Eastern and Central Europe is worse – and some Western European countries slumped in the index as well (notably the Netherlands, where a prominent investigative journalist was killed last year). Within the European Union, Greece is in the last place; 106th in the world.

RSF identities three negative trends affecting the EU – “the return of journalist murders”, the hostility from protesters against COVID-19 measures, and restrictive measures against journalists in countries like Poland and Hungary. 

The European Commission is intensifying the European Union’s crackdown on Russia’s propaganda mouthpieces by proposing a ban on three more Russian broadcasters.

The Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen announced the proposal on Wednesday as part of a new package of sanctions against Russia in the wake of its invasion of Ukraine. Von der Leyen did not name the outlets, but Politico reports they are RTR Planeta, Russia 24 and TV Centre.

The Kremlin’s most prominent propaganda outlets in the West, RT and Sputnik, were banned in the European Union two months ago. 

A year after making a splash by launching a podcast business, Facebook plans to leave it. The company intends to remove all podcasts from the platform in a month, Bloomberg reports.

Over the past years, the podcast market has become rife with major players like Spotify and Amazon. Thus, the industry had attracted Facebook’s interest as well at the time. Now, though, the interest seems to have waned.

As Bloomberg’s Ashley Carman writes, “platform and its parent company Meta are heading in a different direction” from podcasts, emphasising the efforts to build a metaverse – hence the company’s name change late last year – and “pushing users toward short-form videos called Reels to compete with TikTok.”

The New York Times announced its quarterly results this week. The company now has 9.1 million subscribers, with the figure having increased thanks to the purchase of The Athletic. (It was also announced for the first time the total figure of “subscribers” as opposed to “subscriptions”, which have already surpassed 10 million – one subscriber can have several subscriptions).

The company’s acquisition of Wordle, which at the time highlighted the importance of games and other non-news offerings for the business, proved to be a good business decision. As the company’s CEO Meredith Kopit Levien notes, “Wordle brought an unprecedented tens of millions of new users to The Times, many of whom stayed to play other games which drove our best quarter ever for net subscriber additions to Games.”