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article imageOp-Ed: Update- Reporters Without Borders: U.S. ranks 46 in press freedom

By Paul Wallis     Feb 12, 2014 in World
Sydney - The freedom of the press is looking like a mere buzz phrase like never before, according to Reporters without Borders. The U.S., inventor of the idea of press freedom, now ranks an abysmal 46th regarding the freedom of its own press.
Please note: A previous version of this article unintentionally cited figures from the 2013Reporters without Borders report. The rankings and other information have been corrected to show 2014 data. The pity of it is that the 2014 figures simply reflect a deteriorating situation with more serious breaches of the democratic right to information.
The best results were in the Scandinavian countries, New Zealand, and smaller countries like Lichtenstein.
The 2014 RwB report shows an appalling state of press freedom in Western countries in general:
Germany: 14
Canada: 18
Australia: 28
Portugal: 30
UK: 33
Spain: 35
France: 39
Romania: 42
United States: 46
Italy: 49
Greece: 99
The online RwB report refers to the criteria for assessment:
The usual suspects remain, with Russia, Eastern Europe, South America and Italy ranging from “noticeable problems” to very serious situations.
The low ranking of the U.S. relates in part to the Snowden and Manning cases. The UK was also singled out for its pressure on the Guardian regarding these cases.
News? What news?
It’s an interesting point. Can the public interest be perpetually blinded by the term “national security”? Many would say that it has been, since the McCarthy era and hasn’t improved at all since.
More to the point- Can any democracy be said to be a democracy, when governments gather so much information about their citizens, for such a high cost in privacy and the right to free expression?
The security agencies are preventing terrorist attacks, but many civil rights advocates see the national security information system itself as a potential mechanism for oppression on a large scale. Distrust runs deep.
Nobody in media journalism would pretend for a second that the world’s media is any better a judge of public interest than governments. Both seem to have been totally and systematically out of touch with human realities for decades.
The issue isn’t whether the press knows what it’s doing, or even whether it’s any good at what it does. Many would say it’s quite hopeless at its role, barely scratching major issues and hiding from real news.
The issue is whether the public is getting any relevant facts at all.
That’s the truly hideous implication of the RwB report. Is the U.S. press really less free than Estonia and Jamaica?
Editorial policies can also take some of the blame for this farcical situation. Are celebrities, however ridiculous, and soap operas, however pointless, take the place of real news? Who the hell cares which chicken-brained collection of Easy Bake idiots are on a chat show?
“News” media now publishes far more non-news than actual news. Political bias is actually replacing news. That’s a true abuse of the public interest, in every possible way, and it happens without regard to national security issues. Free press, but free to publish non-information on this scale?
OK, the public doesn’t particularly want or need any more endless doom, but if the world ended, would it be reported, yes or no? Nobody seems too sure about that.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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