Reporters Without Borders just released its 2015 “World Press Freedom Index” and it’s not a very pretty picture for the United States. We’ve dropped to No. 49 on their list:
An excerpt from the report explaining our dismal No. 49 showing:
In the United States, 2014 was marked by judicial harassment of New York Times investigative reporter James Risen in connection with the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer charged under the Espionage Act with giving him classified information. US journalists are still not protected by a federal shield law that would guarantee their right not to name their sources or reveal other confidential information about their work. Meanwhile, at least 15 journalists were arbitrarily arrested during clashes between police and demonstrators protesting against black teenager Michael Brown’s fatal shooting by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.
And here’s a screenshot from the report of the countries with about the same level of press freedom as the U.S.:
Watch out Burkina Faso and Tonga — the U.S. is gunning for your spots in 2016!
Although not everyone is buying the report. Glenn Thrush of Politico puts it rather succinctly:
Considering that none of the reporters in Ferguson ever faced any charges, it’s a little hyperbolic to compare those arrests to the threats faced by reporters in the rest of the world.