Thursday, October 20, 2005

Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2005

Reporters sans Frontières (Reporters without Borders) today released its freedom of the press rankings for 2005. Of particular interest to many of us is that the United States has slipped by more than 20 places from last year to 44. The top eleven countries are all European, and 4 of those are post-communist countries: Slovakia at 8, Czech and Slovenia together at 9, and Estonia at 11.

NB: While RSF is a non-governmental organisation, their impartiality has been called into question because they get funding from the US and French governments.

For complete rankings and explanations:


Skeeter said...

First off, this list is not objective, its the subjective opinions of journalists, and insiders that make these rankings.

Secondly, you either have a free press or not, there is no in between. In other words, if a government only kills 2 journalists for writing something, are they ranked higher than a government that kills 20 journalists? Or how about if a news organization concentrates on the Michael Jackson trial and doesn't report on a crime down the street. Do they lose points? They are, after-all "free" to report on anything.

I'd like answers to these questions;
How many newspapers publish in the US? I'm talking local, regional, National, total...

How many television networks (broadcast, cable) have a news program in the US?

How many radio stations broadcast a news program in the US?

How many internet websites originating in the US list news articles?

How many private blog sites are out there run by a citizen of the US? (Yes, Monkey and Max you two are publishers)

Here are some figures from the Associated Press, founded in 1848 and headquartered where? New York, New York, USA:

242 total bureaus worldwide

1,700 U.S. daily, weekly, non-English and college newspapers

5,000 radio/TV outlets taking AP

1000 AP Radio Network affiliates taking AP Network News

330 International broadcasters who receive AP's global video news service, APTN, and SNTV, a sports joint venture video service.

8,500 International subscribers who receive AP news and photos

121 number of countries served by AP

5 languages, including English, German, Dutch, French and Spanish. The report is translated into many more languages by international subscribers.

3,700 AP editorial, communications and administrative employees worldwide

..and should I talk about united Press International (UPI) headquartered in Washington, DC founded in 1907 as United Press and then switched to UPI when it merged with International News Service in 1958 which was founded by William Randolph Hearst in 1909?

No, thats enough.

Wow...And they've got the unmitigated gall to claim that Trinidad and Tobago has "more" press freedom than the United States or Canada??

I think they need to re-evaluate what freedom means for them, but since the reason for the US dropping 20 spaces has been attributed to the Judith Miller case, lets address that. Did they jail her for what she wrote? No, she was put in jail for not revealing a source of information that may be involved in a federal crime, which is "revealing the identity of covert agent of the Intelligence department". Her source even told her ahead of time to name him, but she went to jail anyway, why, I don't know.

Look, I'm a competetor at heart, so if I see the US drop in the rankings I'm ticked-off, but I think I've shown above that this is a bunch of poppy cock anyway.

Devastatin' Dave said...


I think you've shown that this topic is boring.

Audie said...

Of course, the fact that a large number of those papers are owned by the same few companies dilutes your argument, Skeeter.

Skeeter said...


No comments from the peanut gallery.


I don't think it dilutes it much if any at all. So they are privately owned, some by the same owner. So what? Are you saying they are less free because they own more than one newspaper or tv network?
The government doesn't own them, run them or produce them. Bush doesn't have Dan Rather's hands chopped off and/or have him thrown in jail because he puts a falsified document on the news for millions to see and calls it the truth. Lewellyn Rockwell isn't publishing his internet site from prison, is he?
Besides that, they may own large circulation papers and periodicals, but they don't own this blog, they don't own the Metropulse (local indie paper in Knoxville) and other papers like that, they don't own the Fostoria Times, and the 100,000 other published, televised, and broadcast media out there.

"I'm real tired...I think I'll go home now." Forrest Gump

Audie said...

"Are you saying they are less free because they own more than one newspaper or tv network?"

I am saying that it takes more than just a little force out of your trotting out statistics such as that there are 1700 newspapers, if they're all owned by 5 individuals or corporations -- who all get kickbacks from the politicians whose campaigns they fund.

For non-editorial copy, the vast majority of newspapers simply regurgitate what comes off the AP wire anyway, further diluting the impact of any argument relying on the seemingly large "diversity" of news outlets.

Point being, your numbers fail to tell the story you claim for them.

Skeeter said...

The point is what do you consider free press? I don't necessarily equate large corporate ownership of multiple newspapers with an "unfree" press. I consider this blog a free press. I consider Lewellyn Rockwells website a free press. I consider CBS, ABC, NBC, CNN, and many others free press. Certainly you wouldn't consider CNN friendly to the current administration, would you? The stats were from the AP website. One of the more interesting one is that the AP (which is American) feeds the international market, that is most of the newspapers in Europe that are so much more "free" than the US press.

I guess I'm with Dave..this is pretty boring stuff.

Anyway, nice chatting with you Audie. Everytime I see your name by the way, I think Audie Murphy in To Hell and Back...just a word association thing, no implications intended. Probably get that alot don't you?

Later days, better lays.

Audie said...

Actually, I USED to get that a lot. As a kid, when I would get introduced to adults, they would almost always say, "Oh, like Audie Murphy?"

Now, when I meet people younger than me (43), most of them ask, "Is that short for something?" or "What kind of name is that?" So I tell them I was named after Audie Murphy, and they just go, "Who's that?"

So, nice score on the cultural literacy test there, S.

Audie said...

I think the most valuable press outlet we have right now is C-SPAN. Back when I lived in a house with a TV, I would sometimes watch events on C-SPAN, and then compare the different commercial outlets' coverage of said event. It was a little disturbing, and amusing. The event was almost always sensationalized, and was usually given a slant, as well. Even a comparison of headlines announcing the occurrence of the event could sometimes be radically different ("Bush admits mistakes were made!" and "Bush pledges $X billion in immediate hurricane relief!" could both be headlines covering the same brief press conference, for example, and each stresses a different aspect of the event). My conclusion is that each outlet was simply trying to sell something, and they had to decorate it as best they could for their particular audience, so the audience would keep coming back.

So, I just make sure I have lots of grains of salt with me now, any time I consume any mainstream American press, and I always have the question, "Hmmm, wonder what REALLY happened?" in the back of my mind when I read or hear a story, cuz it seems you only ever get a tiny piece of it.

With our government doing more and more to restrict the press's access (not allowing coverage of caskets returning home from the war -- obviously that dilutes the American public's awareness of the war's toll -- is just one example), I am not surprised that an international press organization is suggesting that the freedom of the press here is less than it was previously. Doesn't matter how many news outlets there are if they're barred from doing their jobs, or are constantly funneled into a spin room instead of being given access to the actual events.

One of the best examples of a "free" press outlet right now in the world is Al-Jazeera. Unless you've seen the movie "Control Room," you have probably only gotten Donald Rumsfeld's desperate description of Al-Jazeera as a propagator of hate, when all they do is show the news -- for example, the thousands of Iraqi families destroyed by American bombs, that the American press dutifully labels "collateral damage" and moves onto the sports and weather.