U.S. Now Ranked 53rd

in World Press Freedom

In the latest study by the International media watchdog, Reporters Without Borders, the United States dropped to the 53rd place out of the 166 countries surveyed. The index is based on input by journalists, researchers, and legal experts.

According to the group the ranking "reflects the degree of freedom that journalists and news organizations enjoy in each country and the efforts undertaken by the state to respect and ensure respect for this freedom."

The listings below are from 2002, when the United States was in 32nd place. The drop from 32nd to 52rd resulted to some degree from corporate and partisan influence over news content, but primarily because of the numerous new restrictions on civil liberties and press freedoms enacted during the last four years.

The left-hand column below from the 2002 ranking lists the top 50 countries; the right-hand column the bottom 50. (Sorry, we don't have the latest chart.)

Press Freedom Ranking

1 Finland
2 Iceland
3 Netherlands
4- Norway
5 Denmark
6 Trinidad and Tobago
7 Belgium
8 Germany
9 Sweden
10 Canada
11 Latvia
12 Czech Republic
13 Estonia
14 Slovakia
15 Switzerland
16 Austria
17 Ireland
18 Lithuania
19 New Zealand
20 Slovenia
21 Hungary
22 Jamaica
23 South Africa
24 Costa Rica
25 Uruguay
26 France
27 United Kingdom
28 Portugal
29 Benin
30 Timor-Leste
31 Greece
32 United States of America (in 2000)
33 Poland
34 Albania
35 Bulgaria
36 Nicaragua
37 Bosnia and Herzegovina
38 Chile
39 El Salvador
40 Paraguay
41 Mauritius
42 Ecuador
43 Spain
44 Israel (Israeli territory)
45 Japan
46 Madagascar
47 Cape Verde
48 Ghana
49 South Korea
50 Australia
(next column picks up at #116)

53rd = U.S. in latest ranking

116 Turkey
117 Bahrain
118 Guinea-Bissau
119 Philippines
120 Djibouti
121 Mauritania
122 United Arab Emirates
123 Jordan
124 Ethiopia
125 Iraq
126 Swaziland
127 Democratic Republic of Congo
128 India
129 Pakistan
130 Palestinian Authority
131 Morocco
132 Liberia
132 Ukraine
134 Afghanistan
135 United States of America (in Iraq)
136 Yemen
137 Côte d'Ivoire
138 Kazakhstan
139 Equatorial Guinea
140 Somalia
141 Zimbabwe
142 Sudan
143 Bangladesh
144 Singapore
145 Maldives
146 Israel (Occupied Territories)
147 Colombia
148 Russia
149 Tunisia
150 Nepal
151 Belarus
152 Oman
153 Libya
154 Uzbekistan
155 Syria
156 Saudi Arabia
157 Bhutan
158 Turkmenistan
159 Vietnam
160 Iran
161 China
162 Eritrea
163 Laos
164 Burma
165 Cuba
166 North Korea

In the past, press freedom has been significantly higher in the United States. 

Although some would attribute this low ranking to homeland security issues, it has been found that much of the information that is "classified" or blacked out in reports gained through the Freedom of Information Act has to do with protecting political turf and maintaining favor with influential groups.

These rankings prompted one influential foreign newspaper to ask in an editorial whether the United States can still legitimately consider itself the "land of the free."




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