US ranks 41 out of 180 in global press freedom, thanks to our 'War On Whistleblowers'

Uruguay, Namibia, Samoa, Ghana, and South Africa all offer a greater "level of freedom of information” than the United States, according to Reporters Without Borders' 2016 World Press Freedom Index, released today. The U.S. is ranked at 41 out of 180 countries in the survey.

RSF says the U.S. moved from 49th place in 2015 up to 41 this year, but "relative improvement by comparison hides overall negative trends." In other words, we're still screwed on press freedom, and the future doesn't look great.

From NPR's Laura Wagner, on The Two-Way:

Citing the U.S. government's "war on whistleblowers who leak information about its surveillance activities, spying and foreign operations, especially those linked to counter-terrorism," and the country's lack of a "shield law" that would allow journalists to protect confidential sources, the report takes a decidedly negative view of U.S. press freedom.

Some of the policies condemned in the report come from President Obama's administration, as NPR's Sam Sanders has reported:

"[Obama's] Justice Department has cracked down on reporters in an effort to prevent leaks; it also set a new record for withholding access to government files under the Freedom of Information Act (despite calling for a "new era of openness" on his first day in office); and photojournalists in 2013 from several major news organizations chastised the Obama administration for denying their 'right to photograph or videotape the President while he is performing his official duties,' instead relying on official photos shot by White House photographers."

U.S. Ranks 41st In Press Freedom Index Thanks To 'War On Whistleblowers' [NPR.org]

Notable Replies

  1. No, no, no, Xeni, it's a 'good news' story: the USA edged out Burkina Faso!

  2. Even lower than the UK!

    (but better than France?)

  3. "Uruguay, Namibia, Samoa, Ghana, and South Africa all offer a greater "level of freedom of information” than the United States"

    What the fuck is wrong with the USA? I ask you?

  4. And Ireland is number 9?

    • We have a laws against "blasphemy", with a new one brought in in 2009!
    • 40% of the media is owned by one corporation, "Independent" News & Media.
    • The main broadcaster, RTE, is state-owned and is very rarely critical of the government.
    • Very strong anti-defamation laws which billionaires use as a stick to block any bad press, even satire.
    • Members of the police are not allowed to speak to reporters without approval, on pain of dismissal and/or prosecution.

    So I guess being in the top 10 of this list is more a "best of a bad lot" kind of thing.

  5. This will pretty much be one of the true legacies of the current administration: FOIA refusals, persecution of journalists & whistleblowers, and vastly increased surveillance.

    But don't expect any journalists or team blue to notice or protest until it's some buffoon like Trump in the driver's seat. THEN it's gonna be rending of this and wailing of that.

    No one cares when it's their side abusing the power.

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