Monday, October 30, 2006

Freedom of the Press,

In 2002, the United States ranked number 17 among countries with the best record on press freedom.

Since then we have done every year. In 2006 we have slipped to number 53 in a four-way tie with Botswana, Croatia and Tonga.

The figures are worked out by Reporters sans FrontiƩrs (Reporters Without Borders).

Of course there will be an amount of uncertainty in any statistical analysis. However the trend is as clear as it is unsettling.

I say unsettling not only because freedom of the press is explicitly protected in our Constitution, but our country was the first to do something so radical.

Furthermore, the reason freedom of the press was guarded in this fashion is because the framers of the Constitution were keenly aware that a free press was crucial to an informed public and that without an informed public a democratic republic cannot long exist.

Number 53, how did we get there? How far down will we go? Is there a tipping point?

For the begging of an answer to the first question, please go read the detailed information yourself. I got the article from Bob Harris who is a contributor to This Modern World.

November 7 may well determine how far down we will go as well as reveal the beginning of the tipping point.

Some responsibility for the degrading of public information can of course be placed squarely on the shoulders of the present administration as well as federal courts and the policies of the mega-corps who control 95% of the American media.

However, it is also the responsibility of the public as well to not only demand, but actively seek reliable information about the reality of the world around them.

Those who do not love the truth will receive ever stronger illusions.
Note: in the interest of truth, I must add that Freedom House still lists the USA as number 17. On the other hand, I know nothing about Freedom House and the US Gov't web site refers to North Korea's bottom rating from the Reporters Without Borders -- but does not mention the rating we got from them.

So, as in all things, take everything with a grain of salt! Still, all things considered, press freedom has obviously gotten worse and even a rating of 17 is not good enough for the "City on the Hill"
In any case, Reporters Without Borders is recognized for its impartiality. Their Index was compiled by asking the 14 freedom of expression organisations that are its partners worldwide, its network of 130 correspondents, as well as journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists, to answer 50 questions about press freedom in their countries. The Index covers 168 nations. Others were not included for lack of data about them.

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