Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Time to defend and nurture

Yesterday was World Press Freedom Day, though I don’t recall reading much about it in the Portland Press Herald. The real news was the annual report of global freedom of the press put out since 1980 by the nonpartisan watchdog group Freedom House. In this year’s survey of 194 countries, two trends stand out:
  1. Overall press freedom dropped for the third year in a row, despite bright spots in Ukraine, Lebanon, Guatemala, and Namibia.
  2. Notable setbacks in the U.S. helped drag down the global score. While our press still qualifies as “free,” the U.S. dropped from 15th to 24th place, tied with Barbados, Canada, Dominica, Estonia, and Latvia.
We lost points for heavy-handed legal tactics against journalists trying to protect sources (as in the Plame investigation) and for the noxious use of covert government propaganda masquerading as news content (as in Armstrong Williams and friends). The money quote comes from Freedom House Executive Director Jennifer Windsor:

Even in established democracies, press freedom should not be taken for granted. It must be defended and nurtured.

The worst-ranked countries were Burma, Cuba, Libya, North Korea, and Turkmenistan, where “the press is reduced to serving as a mouthpiece for the ruling regime, and citizens' access to unbiased information is severely limited.” Phew! I’m glad we don’t live anywhere like that!

The world’s freest press can be found in the hideous socialist gulags of Finland, Iceland, and Sweden.


leolabeth said...

hideous socialist gulags

LOL, made my day.
If not for the fact that Scandinavia has even less light than Maine, I'd be there in a Helsinki minute.

Alna Dem said...

Yeah, plus they I hear they all have to drive Volvos. Those things are terrible in the snow!