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US Plummets On World Press Freedom Ranking

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the 47th-amendment dept.

Censorship 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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427 comments

quick (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835049)

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

Re:quick (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835571)

Why has this been modded down? This is exactly what the US has been doing: censoring public communication.

"falling over 100% of their previous ranking" (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835065)

Meaningless metric. What matters is how many places up or down you move.

Re:"falling over 100% of their previous ranking" (5, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835151)

Does falling from 27 to 47 in ranking qualify for your test of significant metrics?

Either way, it's Springtime for Hitler!

Re:"falling over 100% of their previous ranking" (5, Funny)

The Grim Reefer (1162755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835207)

Either way, it's Springtime for Hitler!

Godwin in 13 minutes. Not bad for a Thursday evening.

Re:"falling over 100% of their previous ranking" (4, Insightful)

pablomme (1270790) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835159)

Meaningless metric

...and incorrectly applied in any case; 47 is less than twice 27.

What matters is how many places up or down you move.

...of how many total places there are - it's not the same to move down 20 positions out of 200 than 20 out of 21. Or equivalently, what % of the table you move (provided the table has not changed size due to countries being added/removed).

But this is a very subjective topic and even these more appropriate metrics conform a rather incomplete picture of the situation.

Re:"falling over 100% of their previous ranking" (4, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835567)

...of how many total places there are

Still wrong. What matters is how much you change in the objective measure that is then sorted into a ranking. Someone else used a marathon as an example, go find and read it.

No shit! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835071)

I'm surprised the US isn't lower.

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

http://www.recombinantrecords.net/docs/2009-05-Amusing-Ourselves-to-Death.html

Re:No shit! (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835145)

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! (5, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#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:No shit! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835511)

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! (5, Insightful)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835537)

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! (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835573)

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.

Asleep maybe. I'm not in the US so I get a very general picture of what's happening over there. OTOH you simply made another assertion without citations.

Re:No shit! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835579)

So, nothing. Gotcha.

Re:No shit! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835705)

Shall we start with the executive order allowing the assassination of American citizens who might be doing something the government doesn't like? Or the reversal on closing GITMO?, or the expansion of the use of drones by local police departments? SOPA, PIPA, Extension of the Patriot Act, expansion of the warranties wiretapping program? Need I go on?

Re:No shit! (2, Informative)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835763)

Shall we start with the executive order allowing the assassination of American citizens who might be doing something the government doesn't like? Or the reversal on closing GITMO?, or the expansion of the use of drones by local police departments? SOPA, PIPA, Extension of the Patriot Act, expansion of the warranties wiretapping program? Need I go on?

Don't forget the take over of several American industries through "stimulus" funds and the takeover of banks through TARP. Never in the history of America has the POTUS fired the CEO of a major corporation until this president came along. And, of course, let's not forget the take over of health care. There is also all the new environmental controls, unless, of course you are a union shop or big time Obama supporter. There is the backing of unions, like the Obama administration forcing Boeing to cease plans for a plant in S. Carolina because S. Carolina is not a union state (that's right! The POTUS told a private industry that they could not open a plant in S. Carolina, a red state, because it was not union friendly enough).

Through TARP, stimulus finds and health care legislation, environmental restrictions and blind union support, the executive branch has taken control of well over half the US economy. Hell, the Boeing thing should be enough to scare the shit out of any American, but the liberals just cheer louder and louder.

Re:No shit! (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835669)

Go read the news for citations. You can start with the article in this story; it provides concrete examples of press freedoms being trampled on. On top of that, add in everything about TSA, Guantanamo Bay, stepped-up enforcement on the War on Drugs, and much more.

Re:No shit! (1)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835445)

To be fair, the press in the joint #1 country Norway, mainly publishes PC opinion pieces and poorly translated copypasta from #28 and #47, so it's not like any of this matters at all.

"I've got one that can SEE!" -- They Live (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835083)

Memorable quotes for
Looker (1981)
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082677/quotes [imdb.com]

"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: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000417/bio [imdb.com]

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

Re:"I've got one that can SEE!" -- They Live (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835305)

"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. "

Joke is on you! I don't watch news or commercials!

"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."

Now THIS is important, because Hollywood is the largest propaganda machine in the history. Have you recently noticed the shift from the "bad Colombian drug lords" to the "Ugly, childish and corrupt Venezuelan government"? As countries polish the shoes of the country, they get to pass the "bad looking" press Hollywood can make.

Re:"I've got one that can SEE!" -- They Live (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835353)

"They Live" was Rowdy Roddy Pipers crowning cinematographic masterpiece.

Re:"I've got one that can SEE!" -- They Live (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835415)

I am the tool of the government
And industry too
For I am destined to rule
And regulate you

I may be vile and pernicious
But you can't look away
I make you think Im delicious
With the stuff that I say
I am the best you can get
Have you guessed me yet?
I am the slime oozin out
From your tv set

-- Frank Zappa "The Slime"

Re:"I've got one that can SEE!" -- They Live (5, Interesting)

Xyrus (755017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835503)

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.

Re:"I've got one that can SEE!" -- They Live (2)

Wrath0fb0b (302444) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835707)

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't further your cause either -- it makes it seem like you don't respect other's choices and want to substitute your own.

Re:"I've got one that can SEE!" -- They Live (4, Funny)

martin-boundary (547041) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835811)

I would not enjoy sitting in prison.

Personally, if they gave me my own spacious cave/cell like Hannibal Lecter with free WIFI for reading slashdot and visiting FBI trainees asking about C++ rules for sequence points, I'd consider it.

It's kind of ironic... (4, Insightful)

Liam Pomfret (1737150) | more than 2 years ago | (#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:It's kind of ironic... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835391)

First, that's not ironic, especially since the events are not even in the same time period.

Second, that's actually an important right -- because it does prevent government suppression of "untruth" as defined by the government. (Yes, I'm fully cognizant that the case was about untruth as defined by the very people saying it, not by the gov't, but protecting the former protects the latter.)

However, it's insanely depressing that so many people would continue to watch a "news" channel that had to fight that battle.

Re:It's kind of ironic... (4, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835527)

However, it's insanely depressing that so many people would continue to watch a "news" channel that had to fight that battle.

What's insanely depressing is that anyone would think that any "news channel" would have to fight that battle, or that not "fighting that battle" by a channel proves anything.

Re:It's kind of ironic... (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835467)

...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.

And nobody on any of the other "news" channels does. Ok. Most people would realize that it doesn't take a court ruling to allow a news channel to lie, so I'm wondering why you think it is significant that Fox News might have one (and "citation needed").

What's most fascinating is that people are buying the "statistic" that no other country has dropped more than 100% of its ranking. What kind of goofy stat is that? Moving from 1 to 3 would be dropping 200%, but nobody would consider that really that bad. It's meaningless to use that as a stat, but it sounds really really bad, doesn't it?

Re:It's kind of ironic... (3, Interesting)

Just Another Poster (894286) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835473)

...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.

Re:It's kind of ironic... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835697)

So I see you watch Fox News...

Re:It's kind of ironic... (1, Informative)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835491)

Boy people still go on with that shit huh? So tell me something. There's this murder trial going on up here in Canada [nationalpost.com], in Ontario, in a city called Kingston. Heard of it? Maybe. It was on CNN today. Did you know that the only media outlet that's printed that they're muslim in the US was fox? Every media outlet, including the CBC in Canada printed that. It's like the majority of the media you guys have, fears printing the truth. Or they're afraid that telling you the truth about people is a bad thing.

Hey did they tell you that there was a bomb threat there today? Well most of them didn't, they just told you that it was evacuated because of a 'security' concern. But the police briefing to the media stated a bomb threat.

I can cite example after example, I'd say it's more a specific problem of political correctness trumping freedom of the press, and very few people standing up to it. Hell, you even see that during the WH press briefings, well if you ever watch them unedited.

Since when (1, Flamebait)

swalve (1980968) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835095)

does freedom of the press have anything to do with freedom to go anywhere you want? Freedom of the press is about publishing without interference, not about being able to go anywhere one wants. What happened to the journalists trying to cover OWS was no good, but it wasn't a freedom of the press issue.

Re:Since when (4, Insightful)

ClintJCL (264898) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835149)

You say it wasn't -- yet provide no reason why it isn't.

So if journalists are not allowed to be at events to cover them, but can then write all they want (about what they missed?), then that is full freedom? It seems like that is what you're saying

. Not only are you wrong, but I have to wonder what kind of personal bias you have to even go down that line of logic.

You never specified "what happened to the journalists trying to cover OWS", purposely leaving your own argument vague. Probably because if you look at the details, you'll find they were in public space covering the public doing public things.

And yes, being prevented from doing that IS freedom of press, despite your Orwellianesque attempt to redefine the word.

Re:Since when (1)

jschrod (172610) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835223)

90 minutes ago, my mod points expired.

I applaud your comment, and would have liked to still have them.

Re:Since when (4, Funny)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835299)

no, see... it wasn't a freedom of the press issue, it was a freedom of the reporters issue. Two completely different things! The press is still free to report whatever they want, but the reporters can be imprisoned all the government wants without infringing on that!

^.~

Re:Since when (4, Insightful)

pnot (96038) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835187)

Freedom of the press is about publishing without interference, not about being able to go anywhere one wants.

It was my understanding that the "occupy" protests, in general, have been occurring in public spaces (this is certainly the case in my city). I don't understand why it would be illegal to go to a public space in order to report on a protest happening there.

If you're talking about cases where journalists have committed illegal trespass, then perhaps I could see your point. But I assume that the press freedom rankings are based on arrests of journalists not committing trespass. I'm thinking about people such as Kristyna Wentz-Graff [citmedialaw.org]; since she was released without charge, it would appear that she was not committing a crime when she was arrested.

Re:Since when (2)

Martin Blank (154261) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835531)

A decision to not prosecute does not necessarily mean that a crime was not occurring. It may mean that the evidence is not strong enough to get a conviction worthy of the resources spent on it or that the potential downside of continuing the prosecution (as of a journalist) outweighs the punitive measure against the accused.

I do believe that journalists should largely be left alone except in cases of safety problems (and even then sometimes it's their call), but it's getting tougher to nail down who is a journalist these days. Anyone with a webpage can claim to be a journalist. Anyone caught being part of the events should lose their journalist protections, but sometimes it's hard to tell when someone is part of the events or just in the crowd getting reactions.

Re:Since when (4, Informative)

pnot (96038) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835699)

A decision to not prosecute does not necessarily mean that a crime was not occurring. It may mean that the evidence is not strong enough to get a conviction worthy of the resources spent on it or that the potential downside of continuing the prosecution (as of a journalist) outweighs the punitive measure against the accused.

It's a fair point -- but in the Wentz-Graff case, the police never stated to her or anyone else what crime she was suspected of. The police seem to be running with "oops, we didn't know she was a journalist", which seems implausible given the clearly visible press card in the photographs of her arrest.

Of course, any one case can be put down to incompetence, but this isn't just one case. The SJS editorial linked from the TFA gives other examples, as well as a fairly measured commentary which takes into account the difficulties faced by police.

I agree with you that the explosion of "citizen journalists" creates a bit of a grey area here, but most of the cases under discussion seem to involve salaried, credentialled, professional journalists and reporters taking pains to advertise their status.

Maybe it is just incompetence all round, but the effect is the same whether or not this is a planned policy: journalists are discouraged from reporting on protests by fear that they will be arrested.

Re:Since when (3, Insightful)

praxis (19962) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835191)

So what you are saying is that arresting the press at a gathering on public land is not a freedom of the press issue? What you mean is that we can say what we want, but are not permitted to observe what is happening on our land?

Re:Since when (1, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835197)

Freedom of the press is about publishing without interference, not about being able to go anywhere one wants.

It includes being able to go anywhere you should normally be able to legally go so long as it doesn't unduly compromise your safety, and the only thing going on which unduly compromised their safety was illegal actions by police.

What happened to the journalists trying to cover OWS was no good, but it wasn't a freedom of the press issue.

[citation needed]

Re:Since when (1)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835563)

I didn't follow what happened to the pres - were they just rounded up at the same time everyone else in the same public area was rounded up? Or did the police arrest some reporters at a time when they weren't arresting occupiers too? I can totally understand the former (especially if there were "reporters" without any formal credentials and not obviously different from the OWSers), but the latter would be particularly disturbing.

This trend towards "the police will always watch you, but it's illegal to watch the police" is IMO the most concerning trend in modern politics.

Re:Since when (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835271)

Uh... It's precisely about freedom of the press. They were arrested specifically because they were covering the protests and police action. No one who isn't completely Fox-addled pretends otherwise. That's the very definition of a violation of freedom of the press. If the press is not allowed to cover an event of public significance because the coverage is inconvenient for those in power, you're not very far from a police state.

Re:Since when (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835337)

And if it's inconvenient, you call the editor and get the first paragraph changed.

http://i51.tinypic.com/296i2iq.jpg

Next time around, there may be protests up the wazoo, but there may not be any coverage, or it soft power will be deployed to make sure the coverage goes a certain way, as we can see in the example above.

Re:Since when (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835735)

Who is Al Baker? Police Bureau Chief at the NYT, son of a cop, works with cops, and now -- you guessed it, he's covering for the cops.

Re:Since when (-1, Troll)

aardvarkjoe (156801) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835297)

does freedom of the press have anything to do with freedom to go anywhere you want? Freedom of the press is about publishing without interference, not about being able to go anywhere one wants. What happened to the journalists trying to cover OWS was no good, but it wasn't a freedom of the press issue.

This is the same story that this organization publishes every year. Essentially, they say that by not giving "reporters" special dispensation to break the law, that the U.S. is infringing on the "freedom of the press."

Re:Since when (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835325)

That's the sort of narrow literal reading that makes civil liberties go away. Let's say the government wants to suppress certain stories. There is more than one way to achieve that goal, yet would assert that the only one that matters is when the government tells the press not to print X or Y. The government can achieve the same result by arresting reporters, hiding information, turning off the power to the printing plant -- there are probably dozens of creative ways of interfering with the right of the people to know what their government does. And all of them violate the first amendment.

Re:Since when (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835435)

How many of these "journalists" getting arrested were bloggers and twipsters just there to participate?

100%? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835107)

How is 27 to 47 considered falling over 100%?

Re:100%? (4, Insightful)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835397)

More to the point, why would anyone care what % they drop in a ranking? A ranking is just an ordered list. It says nothing about the criteria used to put the elements in that order.

It's like finishing times for a marathon. If the leading pack crosses together, there could be only a 30 second difference between 1st place and 25th place. Meanwhile there could be a 5 minute difference between 25th place and 26st place. But if you look at just the ranking, you'd think that the 25th place finisher was nearly as bad as the 26th place finisher, when in reality he was actually very close to finishing 1st.

If you want to make relative comparisons like %, you have to look at the finishing times. In particular, the rank order is meaningless for gauging year-to-year changes. What if everyone improved? Then you could drop in rank despite doing better than the previous year.

Want to know what I REALLY think about this? (5, Funny)

Faulkner39 (955290) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835111)

comment removed

Comments are easily supplanted like Articles. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835775)

If you look at what was replaced by the Constitution, is that a bunch of freeloaders called Americans replaced Constitutions article-at-a-time and didn't even pay any consideration for freedoms they supposedly secured.

Just like how many demand free press and rights to post on Slasdhdot but not one ever payed the hosting bill or the editors and journalists.

Some kind of irony (5, Interesting)

ChrisGoodwin (24375) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835137)

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

Re:Some kind of irony (5, Insightful)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835215)

Not really irony. They simply know where the slippery slope leads. Americans have forgotten why tyranny is bad.

Re:Some kind of irony (-1, Troll)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835277)

Nope. This press freedom index is simply a popularity contest, not anything close to representing a standard way of measuring freedom. The press in the US is much freer than many of its counterparts in Europe. Yet folks have an axe to grind with the US and ding them with their "surveys". Ridiculous to the extreme.

Re:Some kind of irony (4, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835497)

Got a nice view of the sand there, Mr. Ostrich?

Re:Some kind of irony (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835627)

Brilliant comeback. I have to admit that your sharp wit simply overwhelms me.

Now in Poland you can be fined for insulting the Bible. But yes, that has nothing to do with the press' freedom compared to the US.

"“Whoever offends the religious feelings of other persons by outraging in public an object of religious worship or space for the public performance of religious rites, shall be subject to a fine, restriction of liberty or imprisonment for 2 years.”'\

In the UK, journalists can be arrested for disclosing non-authorized statements from police officers and there are other restrictions on the press that would simply not be thinkable in the US.

Yet both countries rank considerably higher than the US.

But yes, your Ostrich statement trumps all this.

Re:Some kind of irony (4, Insightful)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835737)

Considering I live in the US, I think claiming i have "an axe to grind" is a little disingenuous. If I do, it is for good reason.

The freedom of the press in the US primarily applies to mass media. Over the last decade, free speech has been cut away for everyone else. Try video taping a public official or locating something embarrassing to the government/big business. At best you will have your camera/computer stolen, at worst you will end up in jail. Of course, the fact mass media still has freedom is meaningless, since they are owned by the same people who own the government. If you believe the US is freer than Europe, it is probably because you have listened to the official line, and not actually gone and figured out why the US might actually be ranked lower.

Re:Some kind of irony (1)

jd2112 (1535857) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835793)

Not really irony. They simply know where the slippery slope leads. Americans have forgotten why tyranny is bad.

I remember when the Iron Curtain fell. I remember Regan talking about the evils of the East German secret police and hour such things could never happen in America. Look how far we've fallen in less than 30 years.

Slashdot likes to praise Russia and China (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835153)

In order to have a strong country, perhaps greater stability is indeed more important than freedom. We say Russia needs a strong leader like Putin to clamp down on forces that would fracture the republic [slashdot.org], we say Chinese censorship is necessary because wealth comes from stability. [slashdot.org] These voices on Slashdot were heralded by its viewers, will they too herald similar American voices?

That will happen ... (2)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835155)

When you start trying to execute journalists and their sources.

Re:That will happen ... (4, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835163)

Private Manning comes to mind...

Re:That will happen ... (0, Troll)

tfiedler (732589) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835179)

Manning was a tool for Wikileaks and a soldier who violated the oath he took when he enlisted. He deserves to be executed for his treason, not celebrated.

Re:That will happen ... (2, Interesting)

jschrod (172610) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835263)

US' persons views on their soldiers is always "interesting".

In my country, a soldier would be expected to go beyond his command structure if he has information of the type that Manning had. In fact, theoretically he should be persecuted if he doesn't do so -- but sadly, that persecution doesn't succeed. (Witness Oberst Klein at the Kunduz bombing.)

Re:That will happen ... (2)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835405)

Pfft. Views on whistleblowers are always interesting in every field.

Take, for instance, that football coach that was just following the command structure when he passed the kiddie rape info up to the next guy. Suddenly he should have been a whistleblower "for the children!"

Even odds that a randomly selected person who thinks he should have "done more" also thinks that just about every other person out there shouldn't "pull rank" or "buck the command structure" or "blow the whistle". You get the culture you deserve.

Re:That will happen ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835617)

that football coach

He watered down the report he received and was careful to keep criminal matters in-house. Lied and covered-up, in other words.

who thinks he should have "done more"

No. Just not lying or covering up would have been sufficient. He could then claim he relayed a full and unedited account to the proper authorities and therefore bore no further responsibility. He didn't do that, so he couldn't make that argument.

While, your "randomly selected person" straw-man crying "for the children" no doubt exists, I suspect you exaggerate the prevalence of such people. Malcontents are prone to characterize all others as witless. It isn't true, but it makes them feel good.

Re:That will happen ... (4, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835643)

But Manning didn't use any of the legitimate avenues available to him. The US armed services have a variety of way to go around your command structure to report a problem with your command structure (their not idiots!). It's usually a career-ending choice, but it's completely legal. There are ways to be a whistle-blower built into the army.

But that's not what happened - he didn't make any such attempt, he just revealed secrets in violaiton of his oath at the first opportunity. If the military let anyone get away with that sort of BS, we couldn't win a war. The simple fact is - Manning simply had no way of knowing what was really going on with the stuff he leaked, and it's just part of being in any army that you're not going to be told everything that's happening, so you can't really reach conclusions about whether someone distant from you is crossing the line. All you can legitimately do is say "hey this looks bad, that guy's chain of command needs to look at this", or in an extreme case "hey, that guy's entire chain of comman must be corrupt, so the JAG needs to get involved", but you'll never have any of the result of that explained to you.

Primitive laws and culture (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835765)

Some more primitive states in the USA do not have laws requiring the reporting of abuse. My state has had them for a long time. Prior to those laws, every school district had a policy in place to follow and I doubt any of them involved telling the police or the press (that is for management to handle...) If you did you could be fired for insubordination for directly violating the policy and damaging the appearance of the institution or at least punished for it... (don't forget about vindictive administrators who can wait to fire you without reason a year later, unless a union is involved in which case it takes a little more effort and motivation.)

Since that law was passed nobody gets punished for following the law and if they did, it would be a massive lawsuit and bad press if not possibly criminal charges if they made any kind of attempt to suppress the 'leak'.

The culture here is warped on the issues by social issues and selfishness; especially the management mentality we have here. It is so bad we HAD to pass a law separating whistle-blowers from their organizational culture and especially the management's sick biases! IT WAS THAT BIG OF A PROBLEM. Now we end up with some over reporting.

My high school dean was fired for reporting crimes to the press; the school board and principle didn't want the crimes known to the public. They didn't report a lot of what happened because of the city&schools reputation. The Dean was fired for letting the press record a crime and his reward was to be forced into early retirement or be fired. I think he should have gotten fired and gone to the press... our 'right to work' laws ironically undermine all such rights; even more contradictory in labeling than the PATRIOT act.

Re:That will happen ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835731)

Once again, Manning was NOT a whistle blower. A whistle blower understands the information he has and why it's wrong. There is no physically possible way that Manning could have known the contents of over a quarter of a million documents that were just dumped on the net. He has no idea what information got out or what kind of damage he could have done.
 
Every nation has secrets. Some need to be revealed. America is no exception. But Manning was a reckless prick.

Re:That will happen ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835269)

Manning is an idiot, who shouldn't have had access to those files in the first place. If you're serious about sending someone to the death row, then start there.

Re:That will happen ... (3, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835341)

I don't see how you could call him a tool. But he did violate his oath, but I don't see how it should be considered treason unless treason is considered a very broad term in the military. Additionally, I cannot agree that anyone, no matter what they are guilty of, deserve a death sentence if their crime had no provable real negative effects. Also, there are many whistle-blower laws that are supposed to protect people like Manning (because not only do employers unilaterally dislike whistle-blowers, often it would be illegal to disclose information, except when you are a whistle-blower).

Re:That will happen ... (5, Insightful)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835455)

You mean the oath to defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic? Seems he's one of the few who took it seriously.

Re:That will happen ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835489)

A oath to defend, from all threats foreign and domestic, and uphold the Constitution of the US.
 
Did you know that a solder has a duty to disobey illegal orders?

Re:That will happen ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835607)

Perhaps, I never looked into the details in enough detail to argue the point.

However, part of that oath is to uphold the constitution and protect the citizens of the United States of America. What would you consider to be the appropriate response if you find yourself in a situation where you have evidence that your superiors, or the government at large, is acting in a manner that threatens those things? At that point there is no action (or inaction) you can take which does *not* violate your oath.

Given the trajectory our government seems to be on, I just think we need to be *very* careful about persecuting those who shine a light in dark places.

Math (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835175)

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

Numbers Please for the "Occupy" Repression (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#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".

Re:Numbers Please for the "Occupy" Repression (5, Insightful)

mykos (1627575) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835695)

Totally agree, man. As long as the rape of the Constitution isn't too widespread, it's ok. It's just a little rape.

Ummmm yea.... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835239)

I don't believe this ranking has any credibility at all. We have one of the freest presses in the world. This is simply a popularity contest and not based on any serious definable metric.

It ain't just the US (3, Interesting)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835241)

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.

Reporters Without Borders moving from the right? (5, Informative)

nbauman (624611) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835285)

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, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reporters_Without_Borders#Controversies [wikipedia.org] 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.

Land of the "free" ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835295)

"free to do as we tell you" more likely.

Come on here, is this really a big surprise? Its only been, what, 50 years before Americans were easily (without trial or anything) financially and completely ruined because the government suspected that they might hold communistic ideals....

That's right; in the "land of the free" people were easily ruined because the government suspected they had certain ideals. People were attacked for their possible ideas; NOT for what they did or didn't do. Don't believe me (I know I wouldn't believe such a horror story) ? Look up McCarthy or worse: McCarthyism.

Really; this shouldn't come as any surprise what so ever. "The ends justify the means" remember? After all; Saddam Hussein had WOD's too right? And; "If you're not with us....".

Re:Land of the "free" ? (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835561)

Btw, you do know that after the fall of the Soviet Union (and declassification of a lot of KGB documents), McCarthy's suspicions were proven to be mostly accurate, do you not?

Correlation to govt activity? (1)

boundary (1226600) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835307)

I'd be interested to see if there are any correlations between dips in this rating and the occurrence of election years. Also whether or not this is at all cyclical based on whether a government is in its first or later term.

Not an honest report (1)

mike1210 (1782518) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835385)

These "press freedom" rankings are obvious bullshit.

In at least two of these countries ranked higher than the United States on this list, one can be arrested by asserting that certain historical events did not happen as alleged.

That, and there's no way the servile, state-dominated press of places like Sweden can outrank the United States in any honest report.

Journalist arrest not a crack down on media. (4, Interesting)

Brad1138 (590148) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Journalist arrest not a crack down on media. (1)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835493)

Most likely it was a group of people who were ordered to disperse and were then arrested when they refused. A press badge doesn't give her a pass to ignore police orders.

Re:Journalist arrest not a crack down on media. (1)

binarstu (720435) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835615)

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.

I think you mean "imply", not "infer".

Here's what the article says: "The United States (47th) also owed its fall of 27 places to the many arrests of journalist covering Occupy Wall Street protests." How does that suggest a "nation wide crackdown"? The article merely states what actually happened; i.e., many journalists were arrested. I don't see anything misleading about that.

Falling over 100%?? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835427)

"Only Chile, who dropped from 33 to 80, joined the U.S. in falling over 100% of their previous ranking."

To fall 100%, the US would have had to have fallen from 27 to 54. It fell to 47 so it isn't joining Chile.

I do wonder (5, Interesting)

superwiz (655733) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835535)

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.

Today's news on ./ -- particularly depressing (5, Interesting)

grahamsaa (1287732) | more than 2 years ago | (#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?

Dubious (1, Insightful)

Dave Emami (237460) | more than 2 years ago | (#38835565)

I'm not going to claim that the US is perfect with regards to the press, but most of RSF's complaints seem questionable to me -- in particular, those regarding covering the Occupy movement. If you put yourself in the middle of a crowd control situation, you risk being lumped in with the crowd, even if you're just covering it, especially since there were a fair number of people who were part of the protest movement while operating in a quasi-journalist mode as well (taking pics/vids to post, etc). Whether you agree with (say) the police clearing out a park where the protestors are camped, someone who is ordered to get out and doesn't, is going to get arrested, whether they're a report or not. I'm not condoning police getting out of control, but it's not a press freedom issue just because some journalists get swept up in it.

There are a few more things like that, regarding countries other than the United States, in the full report. For example, India gets dinged because "journalists were exposed to violence stemming from the persistent conflicts in the states of Chhattisgarh and Jammu and Kashmir." Umm, if you go into a war zone, you run the risk of being "exposed to violence." It's as if RSF expects journalists to be surrounded by some sort of holy aura whenever they go into chaotic or even deadly situations. Don't get me wrong, I have great admiration for the reporters brave enough to cover a war, but it's only a violation of press freedom if they get targeted because they're journalists.

Re:Dubious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835797)

...but it's not a press freedom issue just because some journalists get swept up in it.

...and why isn't it?

Take God out of stuff, this is what you get. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38835789)

Well folks, you take God out of government (saying prayers and such), out of schools and pretty much everything else. You get problems. No morals are taught at home, divorce is common, gays get more voice than the majority, every whim is taken not to offend anyone (meaning there is no moral standard based on the bible) and the government is free to legislate laws. Obama can tell churchs to pay for stuff they don't believe in yet we can't pray. Yup, sounds like a total bible thumper, it's the honest truth.

I pray for our country seriously, but as in revelation, things much come to pass. I'm no gambling person, but things are looking not too good for USA and the world in general.....

Praise God and thanks for his son Jesus, who is my personal savior!

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