Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Freedom of the Press 2006

At this time last year, I posted about the Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2005. The 2006 Index was released today.

The headline of this year’s report lists the worst countries, which are North Korea, Turkmenistan and Eritrea, and the sub-headline reads, “France, the United States and Japan slip further”. As far as The New Amerika goes, that is exactly what I had expected. This year’s report notes just how far The New Amerika has fallen in the five years that the Index has existed. In the 2002 Index, The Amerika was in 17th place. Last year, The Amerika was in 44th place. And this year, The New Amerika has come in at 53rd.

From the report:

Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of “national security” to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his “war on terrorism.” The zeal of federal courts which, unlike those in 33 US states, refuse to recognise the media’s right not to reveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations have no connection at all with terrorism.

Freelance journalist and blogger Josh Wolf was imprisoned when he refused to hand over his video archives. Sudanese cameraman Sami al-Haj, who works for the pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera, has been held without trial since June 2002 at the US military base at Guantanamo, and Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein has been held by US authorities in Iraq since April this year.

Sometimes I am just so proud to be an American.

I am more proud (and less sarcastically so) that the Czech Republic has moved up from last year’s already high 9th place to this year’s 5th place.

To illustrate a bit more, and to represent the interests of some of my more faithful readers, here is how some of the other countries did.

1. Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands

5. Czech Republic

8. Slovakia – tied with Switzerland

16. Canadia – tied with Austria and Bolivia

19. New Zealand – tied with Bosnia-Herzegovina, Denmark and Trinidad and Tobago

27. UK – tied with Lithuania

35. Australia – tied with Bulgaria, France and Mali

50. Israel

53. The New Amerika – tied with Botswana, Croatia and Tonga

58. Poland (worst in the EU) – tied with Fiji, Hong Kong and Romania

134. Palestinian Authority

155. Vietnam

168. North Korea (the worst overall)

For details of the questionnaire and complete results, as well as the results of earlier years, go to Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2006.

And before signing off on this post, I would like to express my gratitude to the journalists that really do risk their freedom or their lives to ensure that we get information that is sufficient and real.

Reporters sans frontières

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