Friday, February 21, 2014

The 2014 World Press Freedom Index drops U. S. 13 places to number 46 of 180

Reporters Without Boarders issued their annual World Press Freedom Index and the U.S. had dropped 13 places, coming in below Western democracies like Great Britain, France and Spain and former Soviet dominated eastern bloc countries like Estonia, Romania, Czech Republic and Poland, and countries that have experienced wars and conflicts like Cyprus and El Salvador, and third world countries like Ghana, Botswana, and Papua New Guinea. We rank one place ahead of Haiti. 

This is what RWB had to say about the U.S.:

Countries that pride themselves on being democracies and respecting the rule of law have not set an example, far from it. Freedom of information is too often sacrificed to an overly broad and abusive interpretation of national security needs, marking a disturbing retreat from democratic practices. Investigative journalism often suffers as a result.

This has been the case in the United States (46th), which fell 13 places, one of the most significant declines, amid increased efforts to track down whistleblowers and the sources of leaks. The trial and conviction of Private Bradley Manning and the pursuit of NSA analyst Edward Snowden were warnings to all those thinking of assisting in the disclosure of sensitive information that would clearly be in the public interest.

US journalists were stunned by the Department of Justice’s seizure of Associated Press phone records without warning in order to identify the source of a CIA leak. It served as a reminder of the urgent need for a “shield law” to protect the confidentiality of journalists’ sources at the federal level. The revival of the legislative process is little consolation for James Risen of The New York Times, who is subject to a court order to testify against a former CIA employee accused of leaking classified information. And less still for Barrett Brown, a young freelance journalist facing 105 years in prison in connection with the posting of information that hackers obtained from Statfor, a private intelligence company with close ties to the federal government. 
To read the report and learn more, follow this link

If this is chilling, it may get much worse. Recent revelations reveal that the Federal Communication Commission has plans to put "monitors" in newsrooms of local TV and radio stations and newspaper newsrooms. They also plan to research media bias and news access and study what determines what kind of stories get covered. There is absolutely no authority for this. It is a abuse of any authority the FCC has but the FCC does have a role to play in licensing TV and radio outlets, but absolutely no role in any way concerning print media.  The thought of  Federal monitors in newsrooms, should send a  shiver down the spine anyone who values  free press.  This must be stopped!  

Our First Amendment rights are under serious attack along with our other rights and the rule of law, and the mainstream media and pop culture sit by complacently and watch the constitution be trampled and our freedoms disappear and seldom do they raise an objection. Next year we may be much further down that list ranking press freedom. We may be down there with the Republic of the Congo, Kuwait, and Kenya.

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