Sunday, February 16, 2014

World press freedom index 2014: USA sinks to #46

The World Press Freedom Index is issued yearly by international NGO Reporters Without Borders. The methodology for ranking nations is described here.

180 nations are included.  At #46, the US is assessed as having less freedom of the press than Papua-New Guinea, Romania, Slovenia, Latvia, and South Africa, to pick a few. However, we did beat out Haiti, at #47.  The US' ranking is consistent with the Committee to Protect Journalists' report from October 2013, which I wrote about here.

Freedom of the press could be considered the right of reporters a) to confidential discussions with informants, b) to inspect the scenes of events, and c) not have their safety put at risk because of the work they do.  We now know that confidentiality no longer exists and communications of reporters with sources have been specifically sought out by government; that war correspondents are spoon fed information and are restricted in their movements by military officers; and that in some cases reporters have been targeted by military operations.  The unusual death of Michael Hastings, whose reportage led to the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal, and was working on a story about NSA surveillance techniques before he died, likely put an additional damper on investigative reporting in the US.

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