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US Plummets On World Press Freedom Ranking 427

Jeremiah Cornelius writes "Reporters Without Borders released its 2011-2012 global Press Freedom Index. The indicators for press freedom in the U.S. are dramatic, with a downward movement from 27th to 47th in the global ranking, from the previous year. Much of this is correlated directly to the arrest and incarceration of American journalists covering the 'Occupy' protest movements in New York and across the country. 'This is especially troubling as we head into an election year which is sure to spark new conflicts between police and press covering rallies, protests and political events.' Only Chile, who dropped from 33 to 80, joined the U.S. in falling over 100% of their previous ranking. Similarly, Chile was downgraded for 'freedom of information violations committed by the security forces during student protests.'"
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US Plummets On World Press Freedom Ranking

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  • quick (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 26, 2012 @08:17PM (#38835049)

    The American government should shut down this website before the news gets out.

  • No shit! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 26, 2012 @08:20PM (#38835071)

    I'm surprised the US isn't lower.

    I don't think they'd rate a Brave New World-esque media as "free".

    • Re:No shit! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @08:27PM (#38835145) Journal
      In a certain sense, that's actually the alarming thing.

      The historical American press neutralization strategy rested largely on a mixture of drowning out the information with expertly crafted 'infotainment' and ensuring that the bulk of the journalists owed their paychecks and their 'access'(and often sympathized with personally) the people they were supposed to be writing about.

      Not good for highest quality journalism; but all very soft-power. Overt suppression by assorted 'security forces', of varying levels of shadiness, is quite a different strategy...
      • Re:No shit! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Grishnakh ( 216268 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @09:10PM (#38835439)

        What's most disturbing about it all is that the Obama voters still cheer him on, even though he's turning out to be much worse for human rights and civil liberties than Bush ever was.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          What's most disturbing about it all is that the Obama voters still cheer him on, even though he's turning out to be much worse for human rights and civil liberties than Bush ever was.

          This is an assertion I keep seeing here on slashdot. Could you provide some citations?

          I'm not suggesting that you're making things up but am genuinely curious.

          • Re:No shit! (Score:5, Insightful)

            by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @09:30PM (#38835537) Homepage
            You must have been asleep for the last three years. Obama has wholeheartedly embraced what Bush was doing and has taken Federal powers, and thus his own, to new levels.
          • Re:No shit! (Score:5, Informative)

            by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <> on Thursday January 26, 2012 @11:10PM (#38836069)

            Well for starters, we're in a State of Emergency as a country. See, Bush declared said SoE after September 11th. The National Emergencies Act [] exists to prevent an indefinite state of emergency (to some degree), but that's basically what's been happening. It has to be renewed every year or two and Obama has signed it every time (here's 2009 [], just an example). Why? Because being in a State of Emergency also grants the Executive Branch around 500 additional powers that it wouldn't otherwise have.

            So yeah, there' that.

      • Re:No shit! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Friday January 27, 2012 @02:54AM (#38836843)
        It's always struck me as odd how people can be so vigilant about 1984 but not a brave new world. I don't understand people who spend all their time worrying about big government, but think big business is a good thing. Same goals: taking your rights and your money. Same people even. Business becoming the government is okay, but somehow government regulating business is evil socialism.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 26, 2012 @08:20PM (#38835083)

    Memorable quotes for
    Looker (1981) []

    "John Reston: Television can control public opinion more effectively than armies of secret police, because television is entirely voluntary. The American government forces our children to attend school, but nobody forces them to watch T.V. Americans of all ages *submit* to television. Television is the American ideal. Persuasion without coercion. Nobody makes us watch. Who could have predicted that a *free* people would voluntarily spend one fifth of their lives sitting in front of a *box* with pictures? Fifteen years sitting in prison is punishment. But 15 years sitting in front of a television set is entertainment. And the average American now spends more than one and a half years of his life just watching television commercials. Fifty minutes, every day of his life, watching commercials. Now, that's power. "

    "The United States has it's own propaganda, but it's very effective because people don't realize that it's propaganda. And it's subtle, but it's actually a much stronger propaganda machine than the Nazis had but it's funded in a different way. With the Nazis it was funded by the government, but in the United States, it's funded by corporations and corporations they only want things to happen that will make people want to buy stuff. So whatever that is, then that is considered okay and good, but that doesn't necessarily mean it really serves people's thinking - it can stupify and make not very good things happen."
    -- Crispin Glover: []

    "We'll know our disinformation program is complete when everything the American public believes is false." -- William Casey, CIA Director

    • by Xyrus ( 755017 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @09:22PM (#38835503) Journal

      To quote Brother George Carlin:

      The real owners are the big wealthy business interests that control things and make all the important decisions. Forget the politicians, they're an irrelevancy. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice. You don't. You have no choice. You have owners. They own you. They own everything. They own all the important land. They own and control the corporations. They've long since bought and paid for the Senate, the Congress, the statehouses, the city halls. They've got the judges in their back pockets. And they own all the big media companies, so that they control just about all of the news and information you hear. They've got you by the balls. They spend billions of dollars every year lobbying lobbying to get what they want. Well, we know what they want; they want more for themselves and less for everybody else.

      But I'll tell you what they don't want. They don't want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that. That doesn't help them. That's against their interests. They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting fucked by a system that threw them overboard 30 fucking years ago.

      You know what they want? Obedient workers people who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork but just dumb enough to passively accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, reduced benefits, the end of overtime and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it. And, now, they're coming for your Social Security. They want your fucking retirement money. They want it back, so they can give it to their criminal friends on Wall Street. And you know something? They'll get it. They'll get it all, sooner or later, because they own this fucking place. It's a big club, and you ain't in it. You and I are not in the big club.

      This country is finished.

      • You know, this is like the fifth time that I've seen this on Slashdot in the last week. Even so, this is copypasta I can get behind.

        At least it doesn't start "Fear, control, etc." and then start ranting about the Zionist conspiracy towards a one world government or something like that...

      • by mosb1000 ( 710161 ) <> on Thursday January 26, 2012 @11:15PM (#38836099)

        I'm going to have do disagree with George Carlin on the last part of that. What they want is more than enough for themselves, and less than enough for everybody else. That way the can live high on the hog while being securely in charge of everything because everyone else is scrambling to get by. For our parents generation, this meant making people believe they needed more stuff, because there was just way to much of it. But it will not be the same for us. We will all be working our fingers to be bone while our parents retire in relative comfort. Retirement funds and social security will be protected, but younger people will work themselves to death for it. The last round of economic bailouts proved that strategy would work, so we'll probably seeing more of it over the next couple decades.

    • Fifteen years sitting in prison is punishment. But 15 years sitting in front of a television set is entertainment.

      But I enjoy watching TV shows (not all of them, the ones I chose to wach). I would not enjoy sitting in prison. I would much prefer to do things that I enjoy than things I don't enjoy. Why is it shocking then that I should spend a lot of time doing something I enjoy -- without coercion naturally -- instead of something I don't?

      It's not particularly democratic (or respectful of other individuals) to disregard individual preferences even when you might have different ones. This sort of haughty attitude doesn'

  • by Liam Pomfret ( 1737150 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @08:21PM (#38835093)
    ...that the US would plummet on World Press Freedom rankings given that Fox News literally won the right in court to lie to its viewers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      ...that the US would plummet on World Press Freedom rankings given that Fox News literally won the right in court to lie to its viewers.

      Untrue. The reporters employed by the Fox affiliate in question were not told to lie, they were told to give the opposing side of the story. Furthermore, the court ruled that the plaintiffs had no case because the Fox affiliate broke no laws, not that Fox News could lie to its viewers.

  • by anagama ( 611277 ) <> on Thursday January 26, 2012 @08:22PM (#38835103) Homepage

    Thank the drug war and the war on terror for the militarization of the police. []

  • by Faulkner39 ( 955290 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @08:23PM (#38835111)
    comment removed
  • Some kind of irony (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ChrisGoodwin ( 24375 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @08:27PM (#38835137) Journal

    Seven of the nations that rank "more free" than the United States are former Soviet bloc states.

    • by bky1701 ( 979071 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @08:37PM (#38835215) Homepage
      Not really irony. They simply know where the slippery slope leads. Americans have forgotten why tyranny is bad.
  • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @08:29PM (#38835155) Homepage

    When you start trying to execute journalists and their sources.

    • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @08:31PM (#38835163) Homepage

      Private Manning comes to mind...

  • Math (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 26, 2012 @08:33PM (#38835175)

    In other news, US dropped 110% in world math rankings...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 26, 2012 @08:41PM (#38835235)

    Given the simply *massive* amount of coverage that the "Occupy" protests got and the sheer amount of "journalists" covering all of the various camp-ins, sit-ins, poop-on-cop-car-ins, etc... that happened, I don't remember seeing/hearing much about any journalists being arrested.

    That could be because maybe their freedom of speech was being restricted, although I remember all the countless hours of "our freedom of speech is being violated" interviews, articles, and counter-counter-protests, and docu-dramas -- but not that. /snark

    I would like to know the following:
    1). The exact *TOTAL* number of reporters that were arrested covering "Occupy" in the US. So far I see one.
    1). Percentage, as a whole, of reporters that were arrested or detained directly covering the "Occupy" movement. Raw numbers would be nice as well.
    2). Percentage of reporters arrested that were violating a federal, state, or municipal law at the time.
    3). Percentage of reporters arrested that were accredited journalists with professional news organizations rather than blogs/activist newspapers/facebook posters.

    I didn't see a whole lot of journalistic "repression" going on while I did see a lot of very mixed-up people talk endlessly about how they're being repressed to the nearest video camera or recording device while violating laws. I got nearly two months of media coverage in video, press, and web forms. I couldn't turn on the news without hearing about "Occupy".

  • It ain't just the US (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @08:42PM (#38835241) Journal

    Holland keeps its third place but loses a whole 9 points (US lost 14), the only reason we are still 3rd is because everyone started from a worse positin but it is hardly good. Wonder if anyone dares to call out Rukker on this (Previous Prime Minsters was Bakellende, the cambion offspring off Bush and Blair, Rukker is that guys pet rock, an object with absolutely no ideas, opinions or passion)... doubt it, probably everyone pats themselves on the back for still being 3rd no matter how steep the downwards slope is.

  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @08:47PM (#38835285) Homepage Journal

    I hope this indicates that Reporters Without Borders is moving towards some independence and partisan neutrality, unlike their past performance.

    You can either take money from Otto Reich, or you can be an impartial, credible advocate of press freedom. You can't do both.

    Reporters Without Borders has chosen to take money from Otto Reich.

    As this Wikipedia article explains, [] Reich was engaging in propaganda to support military campaigns against left-wing governments governments in Latin America, and he was on the board of the School of the Americas, which trained people in torture and executions.

    They accused the Aristide government in Haiti of attacks on the opposition press, but they ignored attacks on journalists under the Latortue government.

  • by Brad1138 ( 590148 ) <> on Thursday January 26, 2012 @09:08PM (#38835419)
    The arrest of journalist Kristyna Wentz-Graff was not part of some systematic crack down on reporters/journalists. At best it was a swamped cop dealing with a large group and not noticing her credentials, at worst it was an idiot cop, maybe both. To infer, as I think the FA does, that the US is arresting journalists as part of some nation wide crackdown is completely false, or at least very misleading.
    • by mounthood ( 993037 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @11:51PM (#38836257)

      The arrest of journalist Kristyna Wentz-Graff was not part of some systematic crack down on reporters/journalists. At best it was a swamped cop dealing with a large group and not noticing her credentials, at worst it was an idiot cop, maybe both. To infer, as I think the FA does, that the US is arresting journalists as part of some nation wide crackdown is completely false, or at least very misleading.

      ... and calling for the murder of Julian Assange was just a misunderstanding. Seriously, what facts or reasoning do you have to offer? You attribute the arrests to idiocy, but who knows for sure. If you're thinking that not enough journalists were arrested, maybe it's about quality and not quantity. How may other journalists learned of her arrest, and decided they'd better follow the rules? Also, do you know how many journalists were arrested? I don't.

      The Occupy protests were not covered fairly by the corporate media. If Reporters Without Borders got the reasons wrong, thinking it was arrests instead of journalists being house-trained and leashed minions of multinationals, they still got to the right conclusion.

  • I do wonder (Score:5, Interesting)

    by superwiz ( 655733 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @09:29PM (#38835535) Journal
    If they consider direct media ownership by government officials as impinging on freedom of information. For example, Italy's Berlusconi owned controlling interest in much of Italy's media. He received quite a bit more consideration than any other politician would in the modern era. For any other politician a sex scandal would have been a blow to their career, while Berlusconi was only sank by Italy's near bankruptcy. As another example, on the same note, there is very little negative coverage of mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg. While he does not technically run the company, he does own Bloomberg LP which owns Bloomberg TV and US News. He is an unmarried man and most people don't even know the name of his girlfriend(girlfriends?). This is quite a fit for a politician of such high visibility. Clearly, the more media a politician owns, the less negative or controversial coverage they get.
  • by grahamsaa ( 1287732 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @09:32PM (#38835545)
    This is just another in a succession of stories on ./ today that has deeply shaken my faith in democracy and liberty in the civilized world. Earlier today (or maybe last night) there was a story posted about proposed legislation that would require ISPs to log all internet activity of customers in HI for 2 years, which would be accessible to law enforcement (or just about anyone) without a warrant or court order. Add to this the articles about DMCA exemptions for jailbreaking of devices, which are about to expire, and ACTA being signed by 22 European countries. Today, ./ also brought news of the demise of the market for used console games (thanks to Microsoft), the NASDAQ delisting a broadcasting company under pressure from the Chinese government, and a new law that would provide for indefinite logging and retention of online activity of Australian citizens.

    SOPA may be on hold, but I fear that we might be losing the war against big content providers and others who want to restrict our rights for financial or political gain. While I appreciate being made aware of these troubling developments, I find today's news to be incredibly distressing and depressing. While the war isn't over, I feel the balance is beginning to shift against us. What else can we do to tip the scales?
  • by Karmashock ( 2415832 ) on Thursday January 26, 2012 @10:42PM (#38835933)

    This thing reminds me of the doomsday clock.

    It's just the opinion of a group of people... the validity of the claim is entirely dependent on their judgment.

    Here's a question... what is their judgement rating? Anyone bother to rank them? Is there ever an audit of their reliability?

    If not... then how do we know that the broken thermometer isn't telling us it's getting colder or warmer? Have to test the instruments.

  • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) ( 193358 ) on Friday January 27, 2012 @12:26AM (#38836385) Homepage Journal

    Icelandic journalists complain of losing libel cases when all they've done is to publish court records, of fear of retaliation, and of a climate of self-censorship.

    One broadcaster was hit with an injunction to prevent them from publishing details about banking misconduct.

    Iceland was one of the top-rated countries in that report.

  • by Coeurderoy ( 717228 ) on Friday January 27, 2012 @04:10AM (#38837085)

    The ranking is somewhat "arbitrary", for example it puts Equatorial Guinea way over Iran and China, in terms of "press freedom".

    Well, it is more or less impossible for any journalist to go to EG, and there is no written press at all (only one "free publicity mag", and one randomly published government "daily" that comes out about 5 to 10 times a year, and no library, bookshop, ...)

    So of course there is little "oppression", once you suppressed all the press...

    In contrast the press in Iran and China is regularly oppressed but at least exist.

  • by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Friday January 27, 2012 @04:55AM (#38837217)

    Hungary abolished all independent news outlets and moved all public ones under close control of the government while the threat of nationalist-extremists towards any dissenters increases. How the hell are they still at only +10?

  • by khipu ( 2511498 ) on Friday January 27, 2012 @04:58AM (#38837223)

    The press freedom index is little more than a compilation of the opinions and beliefs of journalists across the world, based on questionnaires. There is no calibration for cultural differences, no verification or validation, no guarantee of unbiased sampling, little to ensure objectivity. Look at the questionnaire yourself: []

    The very first question is "During [the last year], were there any cases of journalists 1. Being illegally detained (without an arrest warrant, for longer than the maximum period of police custody, without a court appearance etc)?" Now think about that. In what way are random journalists qualified to answer this question? How can they even answer that question? In most cases, legality hasn't even been determined in the courts by then. In countries in which the media are fully or partially controlled or operated by the government, "journalists" would have a strong bias in favor of the government and they would be unlikely to be detained, because anybody critical of the government wouldn't even get hired; yes, to some degree this is true even in Western Europe. And in countries with few legal protections for journalists, detentions of journalists would be much more likely to be legal.

    Mostly, what this attests to is utter incompetence on the part of RSF and the journalists who sign responsible for it.

Promising costs nothing, it's the delivering that kills you.