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New World Freedom of Press Rankings
October 22, 2003 1:41 PM   Subscribe

Reporters Sans Frontières has released its 2003 world press freedom rankings: "Cuba second from last, just ahead of North Korea. United States and Israel singled out for actions beyond their borders....The ranking distinguishes behaviour at home and abroad in the cases of the United States and Israel. They are ranked in 31st and 44th positions respectively as regards respect for freedom of expression on their own territory, but they fall to the 135th and 146th positions as regards behaviour beyond their borders." In related news, "In Baghdad, official control over the news is getting tighter. Journalists used to walk freely into the city’s hospitals and the morgue to keep count of the day’s dead and wounded. Now the hospitals have been declared off-limits and morgue officials turn away reporters who aren’t accompanied by a Coalition escort. Iraqi police refer reporters’ questions to American forces; the Americans refer them back to the Iraqis";"Curtains Ordered for Media Coverage of Returning Coffins"; and it looks like we may have been using the word "casualties" incorrectly all this time.
posted by fold_and_mutilate (32 comments total)

 
To compile this ranking, Reporters Without Borders asked journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists to fill out a questionnaire evaluating respect for press freedom in a particular country.

I wonder about the methodology here. Do they just hand out questionaires to whoever and ask them to rank the countries? Or do they rate the performace of each country individually, with responses aggregated to create a rank? While it's important to take notice of how various governments are treating the media, this seems like an odd way of evaluating that treatment.

The ranking distinguishes behaviour at home and abroad in the cases of the United States and Israel. They are ranked in 31st and 44th positions respectively as regards respect for freedom of expression on their own territory, but they fall to the 135th and 146th positions as regards behaviour beyond their borders.

The Israeli army's repeated abuses against journalists in the occupied territories ... constitute unacceptable behaviour....


It's a pretty bold move to argue that Israel is acting outside it's own borders. The Palestinian territory may well be controlled--at least nominally--by the Palestinians, but it's still part of Israel proper.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:05 PM on October 22, 2003


Since the US (we are not alone!) is in Iraq and Israel is in what is called the contested territories but that which is here called lccupied territories, a special category has to be set up. Clearly the military presence does not allow what reporters believe shouold be their god-given rights.

Kuwait does better now: sure. America there, having left Saudi Arabia. Lebanon is occupied by Syria (30 thousand troops), but since no major fighting, this not considered.
And yet: Palestinie Auithority scores not much higher than the US in Iraq or Israel in the territories, while Iraq scores close to PA, though not the US in Iraq, though it is the USA that made Iraq papers free.
posted by Postroad at 2:06 PM on October 22, 2003


I think our own media is too free - free to report only the bad news about our ongoing war. We should muzzle all of them, and especially this gloomy gus.
posted by soyjoy at 2:19 PM on October 22, 2003


it's still part of Israel proper

As far as I know, no nation, including the United States, officially recognizes Israel's borders as having expanded post-1967. The world recognizes the '67 borders with the West Bank and Gaza strip being occupied/contested land.

Interesting report, but I also wonder about the methodology-- how many reporters who have reported inside Iraq were questioned, and how many of them work for Iraqi papers?
posted by cell divide at 2:24 PM on October 22, 2003


Note also that the report asserts that the US got it's bad ranking in Iraq for the "US army's responsibility in the death of several reporters during the war in Iraq," not any restrictions it might have placed on US or foreign journalists in Iraq. How it came to this conclusion, if the rankings are based on these surveys, I can't imagine.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:37 PM on October 22, 2003


I've seen a few links to this horror that reporters can't be there to watch the flag covered coffins coming off the planes. I'm no fan of press censorship but it's called respect for the families of the deceased.

Unfortunately, due the ratings driven nature of the press, the press wants entertainment and no longer respects news. Reporters camp outside the home of a parent who has a kidnapped or murdered child and swarm on them everytime they leave their front door. The intrude on the most personal details of people's lives, not to better inform the people, but to gain better ratings.

I'm sorry, they can complain about real abuses, but there are some things like funerals and morgues (which they aren't allowed into in the US so why is it so shocking they are not allowed in the morgue in Iraq?) that should be off limits for ethical reasons but since the press has lost all sense of ethics, some people have to draw that line for them.
posted by billman at 2:43 PM on October 22, 2003


cell divide's point about borders is good.
same thing about the capital: Tel Aviv or Jerusalem? because Israel proclaimed Jerusalem as its capital soon after 1948, but the US and almost every other country keeps the Embassy in Tel Aviv
Israel's geography is funny like that. also, where's the border? the Green Line or the Separation Wall?


in other news, Israel refused to cooperate with Italian authorities investigating the murder of photographer (and MeFi's friend) Raffaele Ciriello (main link in Italian, and expiring in a few hours sorry. but I couldn't find any English language links)

that should be off limits for ethical reasons but since the press has lost all sense of ethics, some people have to draw that line for them.
yes, and you know who's even worse than the liberal media? those politicians who are going to have their convention in New York on 9-11-2004 just to use 3,000 corpses as a prop for a tasteless, cynical photo op

is in what is called the contested territories
well, where are they called "contested" exactly? because "occupied" is probably more extensively used, not to mention precise
posted by matteo at 2:49 PM on October 22, 2003


I've seen a few links to this horror that reporters can't be there to watch the flag covered coffins coming off the planes. I'm no fan of press censorship but it's called respect for the families of the deceased....

After sitting through hours and hours of joyous homecomings in the media as various battleships come home or the recent 2-week leaves reunite families, i think it's only right that we see that not every soldier comes home in one piece or able to run up to their family. We should be seeing the coffins and the hospital planes unloading, along with the hugging families. Show us everything--both the good and the bad, happy and sad.

and what matteo said about the upcoming repub. convention.
posted by amberglow at 3:19 PM on October 22, 2003


Hear hear, amberglow. We can't even get an accurate body count on a daily basis. This all goes back to Vietnam, when public support for the war eroded in part due to the nightly KIA numbers reported on television. America at large got a sense of an inevitable downward slide, and lost support for that war eventually. Nowadays, if you want an accurate count, you have to look around for it, and you have to ask.

Thank you, cell divide.
posted by scarabic at 3:42 PM on October 22, 2003


We should be seeing the coffins and the hospital planes unloading, along with the hugging families. Show us everything--both the good and the bad, happy and sad.

Because your right to know supercedes the family's right to mourn.

When someone close to you dies gimmie a call and I'll rush down and shove a microphone in your face while blinding you with a klieg light.
posted by Mick at 3:58 PM on October 22, 2003


I'm no fan of press censorship but it's called respect for the families of the deceased.

Sneaking them in under cover of (metaphorical) darkness in an effort to minimize the fact and importance of their deaths is a sign of respect to you? You have a strange way of looking at things, methinks. To me, it would be far more respectful to openly acknowledge these people's contribution, as well as their deaths, and to honor (by not impeding) the Constitutional freedom of the press, which is one of the things they fought and died for. If you don't want to see the very real results of your support for war on television, you are free not to watch.

If one must slant his interpretation of the facts to support his own ideology, then so be it, but it is profoundly wrong to try to keep the facts themselves from others in order to inhibit their ability to reach their own conclusions.
posted by rushmc at 4:03 PM on October 22, 2003


Because your right to know supercedes the family's right to mourn.

Yes, it absolutely does, every time.
posted by rushmc at 4:03 PM on October 22, 2003


Because your right to know supercedes the family's right to mourn.

1. Yes, it does, when the deaths occured as the direct result of military action undertaken by my government.

2. Since when are those rights incompatible? How does knowing how many Americans and Iraqis were killed or injured on a given day prevent a family from mourning?

I'm not talking about weepy interviews with widows and marching up to the doorsteps of parents, I'm just talking about the basic information we need to have to assess whether this war is worth continuing.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 4:14 PM on October 22, 2003


monju_batsu and rushmc: it makes sense if you consider the political well being of the current administration more important than the physical well being of American soldiers. That's patriotism for some.

On related topics:

A broad survey of U.S. troops in Iraq by a Pentagon-funded newspaper found that half of those questioned described their unit's morale as low and their training as insufficient, and said they do not plan to reenlist.

More than 30 soldiers who came home from Iraq for two weeks of leave have failed to show up for their flights back to the combat zone, military officials said yesterday.

Sick, Injured Reservists Rip Army Care
posted by y2karl at 4:40 PM on October 22, 2003


Men in authority will always think that criticism of their policies is dangerous. They will always equate their policies with patriotism, and find criticism subversive. —Henry Steele

Just some a lot more than others.
posted by rushmc at 4:42 PM on October 22, 2003


Mick, I've been there and done that already. If I had a family member in the war killed in the line of duty I hope I would have the courage and dignity of these military parents when that microphone was shoved in my face.
posted by amberglow at 5:04 PM on October 22, 2003


and what matteo said about the upcoming repub. convention.

Yeah, I'm looking forward to sitting in a bar across the street watching the riots with a beer in my hand, a bucket of wings and a song in my heart....
posted by jonmc at 5:19 PM on October 22, 2003


jonmc, I'll be right there next to you. (We can go in on a jumbo bucket.)

Excellent post. Press freedom is getting steadily more limited. Don't think it will somehow magically be preserved here at home. [US-centric expression, sorry.]
posted by languagehat at 5:36 PM on October 22, 2003


Well, I've packed my Naipaul and am off to Trinidad and Tobago, coming in at an impressive #5, the only warm country in the top 15.

Then, #22 to #25, comes a cluster of warm countries: Jamaica, South Africa, Costa Rica and Uruguay.

Congratulations to all of them.

The next three below are France, the UK and - oh the shame! - Portugal.

But then come plucky Benin and heartwarming Timor Leste.

Quite an enlightening little list and one that should be kept in mind when we choose our holidays.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:43 PM on October 22, 2003


only problem is I won't be sure who to root for. But it'll be like WWF, as long as there's some bloodshed and folding chairs hitting heads, I'll be happy.
posted by jonmc at 5:44 PM on October 22, 2003


P.S. New Zealand is at #17 but I don't really know whether it's mainly hot or cold there.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:46 PM on October 22, 2003


Canada at a solid #10, but I doubt they factored in the Georgia Strait debacle taking place in British Columbia right now.
posted by The God Complex at 5:47 PM on October 22, 2003


yes, and you know who's even worse than the liberal media? those politicians who are going to have their convention in New York on 9-11-2004 just to use 3,000 corpses as a prop for a tasteless, cynical photo op

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the Republican National Convention will be held from August 30th - Sept. 2nd. Link here.

So is lying the new tactic of the "liberal" leaning? If you're going to mock the Republicans, do so in a factual manner.
posted by BlueTrain at 5:47 PM on October 22, 2003


Hold on a second - why's Australia at no 50? Sure, Murdoch owns some shit here, but there's no Fox News equivalent. There are quality broadsheet newspapers, and the ABC and SBS provide decent television and radio news...
posted by lambchops at 6:32 PM on October 22, 2003


So is lying the new tactic of the "liberal" leaning? If you're going to mock the Republicans, do so in a factual manner.

Barring an unforeseen development, Republicans will renominate President Bush on Sept. 2, allowing him and his allies to bask in the political spotlight going into Labor Day -- the traditional start of campaigns -- and to remain there through Sept. 11, 2004, the third anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and the Pentagon.

Starting on August 30 - one month after the opposition Democrats choose their contender - the Republican convention for the November 2004 presidential elections will be held in New York and Bush will shuttle between the convention centre and Madison Square Garden, where a commemoration of September 11 will be held.

This will all be taking place after the latest Republican convention date in party history. I think "tasteless, cynical photo op" sums it up nicely.
posted by Armitage Shanks at 6:41 PM on October 22, 2003


Zimbabwe 20 up from the bottom?
posted by marvin at 6:55 PM on October 22, 2003


neener neener neener
posted by lazy-ville at 7:39 PM on October 22, 2003


Because your right to know supercedes the family's right to mourn.

Tweet! False opposition.

My right to know has no relationship, either helping or hindering, to a dead soldier's family's right (and, tangentially, 'right' is an inappropriate word here) to mourn.

Get thee behind me, strawman.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:46 PM on October 22, 2003


We use US Central Command's definition of casualties in the war in Iraq, which only refers to those who have been killed. -- BBC, quoted by Atrios

An interesting claim, rather easily disproven.

It's a pretty bold move to argue that Israel is acting outside it's own borders. The Palestinian territory may well be controlled--at least nominally--by the Palestinians, but it's still part of Israel proper. -- monju_batsu

The legal situation in the West Bank remains murky. Israel has never wholly annexed what it calls Judea and Samaria (partly because of the ramifications of giving its residents a vote, but nemmind), although it has annexed parts of Jerusalem and considers many settlements sovereign Israeli territory. They dislike the term 'occupied' but the legal status, post-Madrid, is of a military government with local civil administration, except in the areas given over to the PA. (Among other things, the taxes collected are held in a separate kitty.) The Israeli courts have increasingly recognized certain civil rights of Palestinians in the territories, though clearly they remain short of full Israeli citizenship rights. I would say that monju_batsu's claim is an exaggeration of even the most extreme official Israeli position (though certainly there are Likudniks who might agree with it). Certainly it is simply true that Palestinians are not considered Israeli citizens, that Israeli law does not generally apply in the West Bank, and that Israel maintains to this day a border between itself and the West Bank.

Occupied West Bank is, in fact, a neutral term, arguably the best available. Those who use the term 'contested territories' may have an agenda.
posted by dhartung at 8:20 PM on October 22, 2003


Finland and Iceland, two of the four tied for first place, were also recently ranked the first and second least-corrupt nations in the world on the Global Corruption Index.
posted by homunculus at 9:28 PM on October 22, 2003


Thanks dhartung and others. I was uninformed as to the specifics of the Israeli occupation, and I appreciate your correction.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 5:54 AM on October 23, 2003


The legal situation in the West Bank remains murky

- The situation will be portrayed rather differently dependent upon who you talk too, methinks.
posted by johnnyboy at 6:50 AM on October 23, 2003


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