U.S. Falls to 47th Place On Press Freedom Index

Reporters Without Borders released their annual Press Freedom Index today that ranks 179 countries for their treatment of journalists and respect for a free and independent press. There were some points of light internationally, but as their report notes:

“Crackdown was the word of the year in 2011. Never has freedom of information been so closely associated with democracy. Never have journalists, through their reporting, vexed the enemies of freedom so much. Never have acts of censorship and physical attacks on journalists seemed so numerous.”

The United States performed particularly poorly, dropping 27 places this year to 47th worldwide. When compared only to the 20 largest nations (by GDP), the U.S. came in at #11, behind countries like Taiwan and South Korea.

The precipitous decline was attributed to the surge in arrests of reporters at Occupy Wall Street demonstrations. There was a notable pattern of both arrests and assaults by law enforcement of journalists covering the events. Last November the Society of Professional Journalists issued a condemnation of such practices and called on…

“…city administrators across the country to drop charges against journalists arrested while covering the Occupy Wall Street and related protests.”

Josh Stearns of FreePress.net has been tracking the arrests and harassment of journalists across the country. To date he has identified 36 victims. But this list is not comprehensive. One incident that was left out involved reporters from a Fox News affiliate (of all places) in New York who were covering the protests when they were embroiled in a chaotic scuffle that resulted in the photographer getting maced and the reporter getting struck by a police baton.

This is an embarrassing development for a country whose Constitution explicitly protects freedom of the press. It indicates that we still have some work to do and that eternal vigilance is not just a figure of speech..


4 thoughts on “U.S. Falls to 47th Place On Press Freedom Index

  1. I’m much more concerned about corporate greed and money running American media, especially since now they have their hands in our elections.

    • Well, look at it this way: The same corporate powers are pulling the strings of the local authorities who are clamping down on these reporters. These corporate interests want very badly to shut down this message.

      • Oooo, careful dude. Don’t do what they do and make claims like that without some evidence. That is a pretty big claim, not that I disagree, I just havent seen much in tangible proof yet. Maybe I need to reread some articles here, but you know what I mean. I saw maddow tonight talking about newt’s billionaire benefactor. That’s evidence of what youre talking about (kind of), but I’ll need to see more to take off my tin foil hat on that one. Right now, there’s no proof, right?

        Again, I agree that that’s probably happening, but you’re held to a higher standard than that man, and usually you exceed it.

        ……I feel like a dickhead. Sorry.

  2. Thanks to Obama signing NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) you can expect more censorship and more violent authoritarianism.

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