Posted by Avery Gregurich
Reporters Without Borders presents an annual “World Press Freedom Index”, ranking the 180 recognized countries using varying aspects of press freedom as the criteria. This year’s index was released in early February and placed perennial front runners Finland, Netherlands, and Norway in the top three positions.
Where, you may ask, did the first country to include a right to freedom of speech and press in its constitution land on the list?
46th, edged out by 45th Romania but sliding in before 47th Haiti.
This article by the Atlantic cites the report as saying that “the heritage of the 1776 constitution was shaken to its foundations during George W. Bush’s two terms as president by the way journalists were harassed and even imprisoned for refusing to reveal their sources or sources or surrender their files to federal judicial officials.”
It goes on to say that “no fewer that (sic) eight individuals have been charged under the Espionage Act since Obama became president, compared with three during Bush’s two terms.”
The report also listed Edward Snowden’s discoveries of mass governmental surveillance, “the Department of Justice’s seizure of Associated Press phone records without warning,” and the case of freelance journalist Barrett Brown, (who faces charges that could result in a total of 105 years in prison,) as evidencing the current state of press freedom in the U.S.
In just one year, the U.S. dropped 14 spots, from being ranked 32nd to 46th on the index.
How can the United States improve their standing on this index and work to fulfill the promise made 238 years ago, that its government shall not act in a way that could be described as “abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press?”