Wednesday, October 17, 2007

RSF's Annual Press Freedom Survey

Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF) has released its annual report and ranking of press freedom around the world. In case you're curious, the United States placed 48th out of 169 nations studied. You can read a summary on the RSF web site, where you can also get the full report in PDF. In the meantime, here's the key part of the summary. Please note the Americas' lone representative among the worst press offenders:

Eritrea has replaced North Korea in last place in an index measuring the level of press freedom in 169 countries throughout the world that is published today by Reporters Without Borders for the sixth year running.

“There is nothing surprising about this,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Even if we are not aware of all the press freedom violations in North Korea and Turkmenistan, which are second and third from last, Eritrea deserves to be at the bottom. The privately-owned press has been banished by the authoritarian President Issaias Afeworki and the few journalists who dare to criticise the regime are thrown in prison. We know that four of them have died in detention and we have every reason to fear that others will suffer the same fate.”

Outside Europe - in which the top 14 countries are located - no region of the world has been spared censorship or violence towards journalists.

Of the 20 countries at the bottom of the index, seven are Asian (Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Laos, Vietnam, China, Burma, and North Korea), five are African (Ethiopia, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Somalia and Eritrea), four are in the Middle East (Syria, Iraq, Palestinian Territories and Iran), three are former Soviet republics (Belarus, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan) and one is in the Americas (Cuba).


Anonymous Art Deco said...

I have generally relied on the evaluations of Freedom House to ascertain the general contours of the political order in foreign countries, but reading this persuades me that I might be prudent to read the fine print of how these rankings and indices are constructed.

This agency, Reporters Withot Borders, places the United States ranks thirty slots below Canada and 42 slots behind Sweden. The basis for this is the murder of a reporter in Oakland (for which the known motive at present was his investigation of a local businessman/racketeer), the imprisonment for civil contempt of a blogger's who had churlishly refused to comply with a judge's subpoena to provide evidence in his possession that might resolve an arson case, and an employee of al-Jazeera whose arrest (in Pakistan) detention (at Guantanamo Bay) would appear to have nothing to do with any news story he ever filed. (And please note, he apparently has never set foot inside the United States).

Excuse me, but if freedom of the press is defined as the autonomy to obstruct an investigation into a felony, or as the obligation to make the streets of Oakland as safe as the streets of Rejkjavik, or as a guarrantee of the immunity of reporters without regard to their extra-curricular activities, I think it has been defined in such a way as to snooker the souls who get dunning letters in the mail.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, both Canada and Sweden have enacted legislation that imposes criminal and punitive civil penalties on those who take exception to the Official Idea with regard to homosexuality. A clergyman has been put on trial in the latter country and the proprietor of a print shop fined by a government regulatory commission in the former. Well, they are not reporters, but what does it say about the culture of the press corps in those oh-so-free countries that there appears to be not one among them who will pen a critique of the practice of sodomy, and the subculture that surrounds it?

8:01 PM  
Blogger FreadomistaW said...

Yo, Dave. I could not find your email on the website anymore?

Are you by any chance going to Philly? Let me know in case you are thinking about it.


11:21 PM  

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