U.S. press freedoms take another knock

Reporters Without Borders published its fifth annual Press Freedom Index yesterday and the results for the U.S. aren’t good. Safely in the top 20 when the inaugural index came out in 2002, the United States has slipped to 53rd place this year, largely based on what the organization deems a hostile relationship between the Bush ...

606537_PressFreedom5.jpg
606537_PressFreedom5.jpg

Reporters Without Borders published its fifth annual Press Freedom Index yesterday and the results for the U.S. aren't good. Safely in the top 20 when the inaugural index came out in 2002, the United States has slipped to 53rd place this year, largely based on what the organization deems a hostile relationship between the Bush administration and journalists questioning the war on terror. Also contributing to America's tumble: Detained journalists in Iraq and Gitmo, as well as jailed blogger Josh Wolf, who refuses to surrender to authorities video of violent protests in San Francisco during last year's Gleneagles G8 summit. 

There are a number of interesting improvements (Haiti, Algeria, Bolivia) and slips (France, Denmark, Japan), but because I speculated earlier this summer that Brangelina's much-publicized birth in Namibia - complete with jailed paparazzi and a no-media zone -  might hurt the country's press freedom rating, I made a point to check out Namibia's score. And it has indeed gone down - ever so slightly - in the last year. But the country is still one of the best in Africa for permitting freedom of expression. And it will apparently take more than one high-profile celebrity birth to change that.

Reporters Without Borders published its fifth annual Press Freedom Index yesterday and the results for the U.S. aren’t good. Safely in the top 20 when the inaugural index came out in 2002, the United States has slipped to 53rd place this year, largely based on what the organization deems a hostile relationship between the Bush administration and journalists questioning the war on terror. Also contributing to America’s tumble: Detained journalists in Iraq and Gitmo, as well as jailed blogger Josh Wolf, who refuses to surrender to authorities video of violent protests in San Francisco during last year’s Gleneagles G8 summit. 

There are a number of interesting improvements (Haiti, Algeria, Bolivia) and slips (France, Denmark, Japan), but because I speculated earlier this summer that Brangelina’s much-publicized birth in Namibia – complete with jailed paparazzi and a no-media zone –  might hurt the country’s press freedom rating, I made a point to check out Namibia’s score. And it has indeed gone down – ever so slightly – in the last year. But the country is still one of the best in Africa for permitting freedom of expression. And it will apparently take more than one high-profile celebrity birth to change that.

Carolyn O'Hara is a senior editor at Foreign Policy.

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