Why the media became less free in America, the Middle East, and China, but freer in Africa
Police officers shove freelance photographer Andrew Kelly to the ground while he taking pictures of demonstrators affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement / AP
Here are a few of the countries that, according to watchdog Reporters Without Borders, currently enjoy greater press freedom than the United States: Ghana, South Africa, El Salvador, Niger, Mali, Jamaica, Slovakia, Uruguay, and virtually all of the developed world, from Western Europe to East Asia. Out of 179 countries, the U.S., which found independence and democracy on the back of the printing press, is now the 47th most free. Fortunately, we are still ranked ahead of Latvia and Haiti, though just barely.
Reporters Without Borders' just-out World Press Freedom Index, which uses a complex point system to track and compare journalistic freedoms, describes a number of countries eroding those rights in the past year, including the U.S. Our own ranking dropped to 47th place from 20th the year before. According to the report, the decline came as police cracked down on journalists who were covering mass gatherings, often as part of the "occupy" movements. Here's the Reporters Without Borders report:
The crackdown on protest movements and the accompanying excesses took their toll on journalists. In the space of two months in the United States, more than 25 were subjected to arrests and beatings at the hands of police who were quick to issue indictments for inappropriate behaviour, public nuisance or even lack of accreditation.
Just Wednesday, the New York Times complained that New York City police have been physically obstructing photographers to prevent them from documenting arrests. Representatives from 13 different news organizations signed a letter deploring police restrictions on the media.