February 2, 2012
"Crackdown was the word of the year in 2011"; US drops 20 positions in Reporters Without Borders' World Press Freedom Index, 2011/2012 Rankings
This year’s index sees many changes in the rankings, changes that reflect a year that was incredibly rich in developments, especially in the Arab world. Many media paid dearly for their coverage of democratic aspirations or opposition movements. Control of news and information continued to tempt governments and to be a question of survival for totalitarian and repressive regimes. The past year also highlighted the leading role played by netizens in producing and disseminating news.
Crackdown was the word of the year in 2011. Never has freedom of information been so closely associated with democracy. Never have journalists, through their reporting, vexed the enemies of freedom so much. Never have acts of censorship and physical attacks on journalists seemed so numerous. The equation is simple: the absence or suppression of civil liberties leads necessarily to the suppression of media freedom. Dictatorships fear and ban information, especially when it may undermine them.
Do note that the United States' position in the annual index fell some 20 positions to 47th, sharing that "pride of place" with Argentina and Romania. Why?
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.
Quoting from the World Press Freedom Index 2011/2012. The moral of the US story is, perhaps, be very, very careful when trying to report on protests against the 1%. [JH]