Free Press

Governments Hating On Press Freedom More, Says Reporters Without Borders

The U.S. has a satisfactory score, but our country could do a lot better.

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The press freedom group Reporters Without Borders has issued the 2016 edition of its annual World Press Freedom Index. Let's just say that the news is not good. Dictators, party hacks, caudillos, kings, petty bureaucrats, spy agencies, and even the Obama administration just want reporters to shut up.

Republican presidential candidate frontrunner Donald Trump wants to "open up our libel laws so when they [reporters] write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money." Shades of the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 which, as USHistory.org explains, "prohibited public opposition to the government. Fines and imprisonment could be used against those who 'write, print, utter, or publish . . . any false, scandalous and malicious writing' against the government."

Of course, the kinds of government pressures and harassment faced by journalists in the U.S. and most other industrialized countries is small potatoes when compared to the deadly dangers faced by reporters in China, the Arab World, much of Africa, and in many Latin American countries.

Reporters Without Borders notes that its 2016 edition of the World Press Freedom Index…

…shows that there has been a deep and disturbing decline in respect for media freedom at both the global and regional levels. Ever since the 2013 index, Reporters Without Borders has been calculating indicators of the overall level of media freedom violations in each of the world's regions and worldwide. The higher the figure, the worse the situation. The global indicator has gone from 3719 points last year to 3857 points this year, a 3.71% deterioration. The decline since 2013 is 13.6%.

PressFreedomMap2016
RSF

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The lower the score, the greater the press freedom found in a country. For example, Finland has the lowest score at 8.59. In the latest report, the U.S., with a score of 22.46, stands at 41st out of 180 countries ranked. With regard to the U.S., Reporters Without Borders notes: 

Freedom ends where national security begins

US media freedom, enshrined in the First Amendment to the 1787 constitution, has encountered a major obstacle – the government's war on whistleblowers who leak information about its surveillance activities, spying and foreign operations, especially those linked to counter-terrorism. Furthermore, US journalists are still not protected by a federal "shield law" guaranteeing their right not to reveal their sources and other confidential work-related information.

While any score below 25 is considered satisfactory, our country could do a lot better.

*Where is Greenland?

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  1. Not sure if a country with only puffins and a guy named Sven really needs a press.

  2. *Where is Greenland?

    Greenland is located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago.

    US journalists are still not protected by a federal “shield law” guaranteeing their right not to reveal their sources and other confidential work-related information.

    Is that necessary?

    1. Not only is is not necessary, its not possible.

      THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS ‘THE PRESS’ in the United States.

      There are simply *people* who stick there noses into other people’s business. To give the ‘press’ a shield gives the government the power to determine who the press is. And that is a far, far worse thing than not having a legal ‘shield’ against revealing sources.

      Its hardly necessary anyway – you don’t have a legal shield in the confessional either and the *tiny* number of professions that have one actually couldn’t work without it. Unlike the press which has done just fine under the current legal regime.

      1. To give the ‘press’ a shield gives the government the power to determine who the press is. And that is a far, far worse thing than not having a legal ‘shield’ against revealing sources.

        Yes. Journalistic certification is where that would end up.

        1. This was a no-shit proposal that previous UK government tried to run with. Good news, they backed off. Bad news, the pressure group that was behind the law is still working on it, and they have celebs on their side.

        2. a deep and disturbing decline in respect for media freedom at both the global and regional levels

          A respect for media freedom. You ain’t no media, is you? You probably ain’t even got a fedora with a band you can stick a “Press” card in, do ya?

      2. ^This. Came to question the need for a “press” distinction.

      3. Really excellent point.

      4. I fail to see how the lack of special privileges, like the privilege to defy court orders, is a sign of “freedom”.

        Because that’s what they are complaining about – the lack of a special privilege.

        Boo-fucking-hoo.

    2. *Where is Greenland?

      It was airbrushed out because it’s an outsized white country on a racist map.

    3. I assumed it disappeard because golab warmiung.

      1. That’s a villain from LOTR, right? I never saw those movies.

        1. See? That’s what this is all about! 55,000 Greenlanders gone without a trace, and not *one* mention of it in the mainstream press!

        2. Your loss. Those movies were awesome, unlike hipsters.

    4. And why does it have to be federal?

      1. I suppose it would have to be if their “sources” pertain to the Federal government.

  3. LAME TROLL IS LAME

    1. Were you looking into a mirror as you typed that?

      BOOM!

  4. At least we’re one place ahead of Burkina Faso. Those fuckers suck.

    1. Love the name of their capital, though: Ouagadougou.

  5. Your second paragraph attacks Trump for changing libel laws but says nothing about Hillary wanting to gut the Citizens United decision which would shut down all opposition speech of any type. Your silence about her would seems to be as much as supporting her.

    1. So that would make you a Bernie man, huh?

    2. Your second paragraph attacks Trump for changing libel laws

      As I recall, the change Trump was asking for was really pretty trivial. Don’t recall the details.

      says nothing about Hillary wanting to gut the Citizens United decision

      Funny, that. Purely an oversight, I’m sure.

      1. More conservative mendacity on display.

  6. Germany is at position 16. Country that is currently trying a guy for writing mean things about foreigners on Facebook, and is going to try a guy for writing a mean poem about a dictatorial dipshit.

    The law bans hate speech, Holocaust denial and Nazi propaganda but far-right groups target the media regardless. Since 2014, there has been growing harassment, threats and violence against journalists covering radical right-wing groups, especially the Islamophobic and xenophobic group Pegida. The other source of concern for journalists is the 2009 anti-terrorism law, which allows the police to conduct clandestine surveillance operations (including searches of homes, inspection of computer hard disks, and phone taps) and threatens the confidentiality of their sources.

    Oh, it’s freedom only for Union Members in Good Standing. Carry on.

  7. Furthermore, US journalists are still not protected by a federal “shield law” guaranteeing their right not to reveal their sources and other confidential work-related information.

    I’m always wondering what really drives these indexes. This type of thing veers dangerously towards ‘journalist licensing” which journalists themselves have been generally positive about.

    And by the way, our goal isn’t to protect journalism, our goal is to protect freedom of speech, something journalists benefit from. If your freedom of speech isn’t recognized, carving out a special place for journalists does little to nothing.

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  9. So, when Reporters Without Borders* says ‘free press’ they mean ‘press highly regulated by state authorities’?

    Because that’s the only way this idiocy makes any sense at all.

    * Journolist Internationale

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