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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

We're Number 46 (Between Romania and Haiti)!

Posted by on Wed, Feb 12, 2014 at 2:52 PM

How's your First Amendment feeling today?

Reporters Without Borders has downgraded the US to 46th-freest country in the world when it comes to the press.

If you're feeling competitive, higher-ranking countries include France (39), Jamaica (17), Ghana (27), and Finland (1). Lower-ranking countries include Russia (148), Thailand (130), Mexico (152), and Cuba (170).

The rankings are based on violence directed at journalists, censorship, self-censorship, and the diversity of the media landscape. In Brazil, for example, "the phenomenon of 'colonels,' regional politicians who are also businessmen and media owners constitutes a major obstacle to media pluralism and independence, turning journalists into the tools of local barons and exposing them to often deadly score-settling." In Tonga and Papua New Guinea, four reporters have been punished for "criticizing" their prime ministers.

And in the US?

There has been little improvement in practice under Barack Obama. Rather than pursuing journalists, the emphasis has been on going after their sources, but often using the journalist to identify them. No fewer that eight individuals have been charged under the Espionage Act since Obama became president, compared with three during Bush’s two terms...

The whistleblower is the enemy. Hence the 35-year jail term imposed on Private Chelsea/Bradley Manning for being the big WikiLeaks source, an extremely long sentence but nonetheless small in comparison with the 105-year sentence requested for freelance journalist Barrett Brown in a hacking case. Amid an all-out hunt for leaks and sources, 2013 will also be the year of the Associated Press scandal, which came to light when the Department of Justice acknowledged that it had seized the news agency’s phone records.

Our score puts us just between Romania and Haiti.


Comments (13) RSS

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Dr. Z 1
Oh really? If you're lesbian or gay, just try exercising your freedom of speech in Jamaica or Ghana and see how far you get.
Posted by Dr. Z on February 12, 2014 at 3:04 PM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 2
Oh, snap! To be fair, I'd like to arrest a few of our so-called "news" organizations myself.
Posted by Pope Peabrain on February 12, 2014 at 3:05 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 3
this feels a bit overly dramatic. that or the USA is being judged on a sliding scale.
Posted by Max Solomon on February 12, 2014 at 3:25 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 4
Has a White House correspondent ever asked the White House for a reaction to these rankings? I'd like to hear their answer to the US not being the greatest, freest country in the world, and how they can defend our position without shitting on the 45 countries that manage to be freer than us.
Posted by MacCrocodile on February 12, 2014 at 3:40 PM · Report this
brandon 5
Finland seems to spank us at EVERYTHING.
Posted by brandon on February 12, 2014 at 3:44 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 6
I call bullshit on Haiti.

Yes, yes, the "guides" assigned to AP reporters by the Haitian elite are very friendly, and I'm sure the resorts where the reporters are sequestered are also very pleasant. That doesn't mean there's free speech or press for actual Haitians.
Posted by keshmeshi on February 12, 2014 at 4:06 PM · Report this
Bullshit! Three of the top 10 are barely countries (Luxembourg, Andorra, Liechtenstein). Hardly any news is ever even created in half the countries ranked above #46. Really, we're outpointed by Papua New Guinea?!? For fuck sake! And while Bradley Manning is a hero here on Slog, he did sign a goddamn OATH and therefore had VOLUNTARILY given up his 1st amendment rights to publish whatever the hell he wanted to while in uniform. Sheesh. We got our freedom of speech challenges, but this list is just plain ridiculous.
Posted by Westside forever on February 12, 2014 at 5:09 PM · Report this
Yeah, this is kind of bullshit. Somehow I'm doubting few countries (even most that outranks us) would be much more tolerant of whistle-blowers.
Posted by Jizzlobber on February 12, 2014 at 5:29 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 9
@7 - While it's probably unfair to compare us on the same scale as tiny barely-a-countries like Andorra, there are plenty of tiny nonentities below us on the ladder, too. Fine, break up the ranking into subrankings by GDP or raw population or whatever. 46 is still a sad showing.
Posted by MacCrocodile on February 12, 2014 at 9:53 PM · Report this
JensR 10
Well we (Sweden) are in the top ten .... which is odd. Hey you other Swedes who read the Stranger (I know there are quite a few of us for some odd reason) - concerning Soran Ismails shut off from SR since he talked about racism - I mean that should shove us down the scale shouldn't it?
Posted by JensR on February 13, 2014 at 12:37 AM · Report this
That list makes me grimly curious about what's going on in Eritrea these days. A less free press than North Korea? I didn't imagine any country would come remotely close to that.
Posted by david jw on February 13, 2014 at 6:18 AM · Report this
@11 - I think Eritrea is just a sharia law version of Ethiopia. That could be why.
Posted by longball on February 13, 2014 at 7:46 AM · Report this
sissoucat 13
France is above the US ? I wouldn't have bet on that.
Posted by sissoucat on February 14, 2014 at 7:02 AM · Report this

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