Report: Press freedoms are declining around the world

Reporters Without Borders

Reporters Without Borders published its annual index on press freedoms around the world on Thursday, ranking press freedoms in 180 countries. 2014, RWB reported, saw "worldwide deterioration in freedom of information."

From the introduction:

The 2015 World Press Freedom Index highlights the worldwide deterioration in freedom of information in 2014. Beset by wars, the growing threat from non-state operatives, violence during demonstrations and the economic crisis, media freedom is in retreat on all five continents.

The United States ranked 49 out of 180 on the index, down three spots from last year.

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.

The U.S. has fallen far down the list over time. In 2002, when the list began, the U.S. ranked 17 on the index.

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Some other notable points from the report:

The top five spots on the index go to Finland, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden. The bottom five spots go to China, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkmenistan, Democratic People's Republic of Korea and Eritrea. Canada ranked eight, up 10 spots from last year, and the United Kingdom ranked 34, down 1 spot.

RWB focused on a number of findings from this year's report, including the difficulty press around the world have had while covering protests. In 2014, this was true for journalists in Ukraine, Turkey, Hong Kong, Venezuela, France and the U.S. Threats came from security forces and protesters.

According to the Hong Kong Journalists Association, approximately 30 news providers were arrested during the “Umbrella Revolution.” In Venezuela, the national journalists’ union has reported that more than 20 media workers were arrested in February-April, 2014. In the United States (49th), at least 15 journalists were arbitrarily arrested during confrontations between police and demonstrators following the death of Michael Brown, an African-American shot by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on 9 August, 2014.

RWB describes the methodology used for the report here.

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