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The international Press Freedom Index
October 23, 2002 8:47 AM   Subscribe

The international Press Freedom Index (Sept 2001-Oct 2002), published by Reporters Without Borders contains some surprises. Based on questionnaires sent to "...journalists or foreign correspondents living in the country, researchers, [and] legal experts...", RWB ranked the United States 17th, below Slovenia and Costa Rica. Why? "The poor ranking of the United States (17th) is mainly because of the number of journalists arrested or imprisoned there. Arrests are often because they refuse to reveal their sources in court. Also, since the 11 September attacks, several journalists have been arrested for crossing security lines at some official buildings. "
posted by astirling (9 comments total)

 
The poor ranking of the United States (17th) is mainly because of the number of journalists arrested or imprisoned there.

Um... the site's own list of 115 imprisoned journalists shows none in the United States. Is the US really any different from other Western nation in the conflict between journalists, who don't want to reveal their sources, and judges and prosecutors, who want to them to? I read of an occasional journalist being cited for contempt of court for refusing to reveal their sources. Do US journalists feel this is a major issue, more than in, say, Norway or Australia?

And don't police arrest people for crossing security lines everywhere?
posted by Slithy_Tove at 9:08 AM on October 23, 2002


"The poor ranking of the United States (17th) is mainly because of the number of journalists arrested or imprisoned there. Arrests are often because they refuse to reveal their sources in court. Also, since the 11 September attacks, several journalists have been arrested for crossing security lines at some official buildings. "

Where did this quote come from? I poked around the site but couldn't find anything with the details for the ranking of the US.

BTW, if reporters go poking around secure areas in official buildings, why *shouldn't* they get arrested?

The irony is that the US has a culture of the press that leads many reporters to believe they have an inalienable right to go anywhere they please and say whatever they want. This is largely because, most of the time, they can get away with it.

Reporters in other countries may be less likely to get arrested for certain actions because they don't even bother trying to do things, so convinced are they that they must follow certain rules and tow the line.
posted by Ayn Marx at 9:26 AM on October 23, 2002


Reporters in other countries may be less likely to get arrested for certain actions because they don't even bother trying to do things, so convinced are they that they must follow certain rules and tow the line.

Absolutely. Despite public perception of "the media" as a corrupt, immoral hoarde, the U.S. is one of the few countries that has journalists that are willing to get arrested to get the story out.
posted by gsteff at 11:20 AM on October 23, 2002


What gsteff said. Also, it's toe the line.
posted by languagehat at 12:44 PM on October 23, 2002


the U.S. is one of the few countries that has journalists that are willing to get arrested to get the story out

gsteff, don't take this personally -- but that's an incredibly fatuous statement. Journalists killed in 2002: 19, including one American; 119 imprisoned, including no Americans. When assessing risk, US journalists may be willing to accept nuisance arrests, with the near-certain backing of lawyers from their media employers. That's nothing to facing down torture.
posted by dhartung at 2:46 PM on October 23, 2002


Reporters in other countries may be less likely to get arrested for certain actions because they don't even bother trying to do things, so convinced are they that they must follow certain rules and tow the line.
Concurring with dhartung:
Surely you are not suggesting that this holds for say Ukranian, Dutch or Irish reporters?
posted by talos at 2:53 AM on October 24, 2002


Justa late comment: This reminded me of the Photographers for Press Freedom series of "coffeetable" books, which are quite nice. I can't find a really good link, but I picked up Robert Doisneau and Reporters Sans Frontieres, 2000 for $7 or $8 USD at a local Borders a while back, and it is a beautiful book at a good price for a very good cause. There are other photographers in the series, and I believe Borders and other chains are carrying these also. In fact, I'll have a look the next time I'm out...
posted by Shane at 7:04 AM on October 24, 2002


There's a photo album here

I see that Cuba is singled out for particular praise - Cuba, the last dictatorship in Latin America, came 134th and is the only country in the region where there is no diversity of news and journalists are routinely imprisoned.

Why is the UK (relatively) low?
posted by pavlova at 7:29 AM on October 24, 2002


Oops--thanks, pavlova--and here is a link to the latest book, right on the Reporters Without Borders site linked above:

Reporters Without Borders will publish a new album of Edouard Boubat's photos. The sale of the photo albums will raise money for Reporters Without Borders to continue its work fighting to free imprisoned journalists and defending press freedom wherever it is threatened. The French freelance photographer Edouard Boubat (who was born in the Montmartre district of Paris in 1923 and died in 1999) was a tireless traveller, always on the look-out for a magical moment, for people in their environment, ready to be amused, as well as being wise and full of humour. His work, mainly about Paris, has been exhibited all over the world and won many prizes. It is about being quietly happy.
posted by Shane at 7:36 AM on October 24, 2002


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