Hope and Death
Apocalypse Now!



Eh. They don't seem to have much of a system in ranking the countries. The fact that the US falls so far down on the list is indication enough that the main basis for these ranks is personal bias of the people doing the ranking. This becomes especially clear if you stop for a second and realize that in many of the countries listed above the US a reporter could actually end up in jail for writing an article questioning the holocaust. Even Canada, ranked 38 countries above the US, will prosecute people who publish "hate speech". Meanwhile in the US you can write pretty much anything you feel like (short of inciting violence, and libel) without worrying about going to jail.

So yeah, I question the system used to rank these countries. While I have no doubt that Pakistan and Saudi Arabia would be very far down on ANY list ranking countries based on basic freedoms, I don't think that this list in particular is valid.

Isaac Schrödinger

I have to agree. I do wonder: Precisely why is the US so far down the list?


Well they explain it to an extent:

"Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of 'national security' to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his 'war on terrorism'".

Ofcourse, that's a gross exaggeration because the majority of the US press DOES question the war on terrorism. Also, "suspicion" does not equal "persecution".

"The zeal of federal courts which, unlike those in 33 US states, refuse to recognise the media’s right not to reveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations have no connection at all with terrorism."

This one's more valid, although I've always hated the tendency of reporters to quote "anonymous" sources. Leaves too much room for "inventive reporting". Although even in the US this only becomes relevant when a criminal case is being built and the need to know the identity of the source becomes critical, so it's hardly a restriction on the freedom of the media.

Finally, they then go on to talk about Sami al-Haj, who is being held in Iraq on grounds that he's associated with the terror groups there. Ofcourse, this is largely irrelevant because he was captured in Iraq and is being held there, meaning it has no relevance when discussing media freedom within the US. And in addition to that, the criticism is only even remotely valid if you assume that he is innocent of the crime of which he has been accused. If he is in fact guilty, then the US has every right to hold him. Criticizing them under such circumstances would be equivalent to saying that the arrest of a reporter who committed a murder is a restriction on freedom of the press. It's a ludicrous argument.

Also, there's other parts of the ranking that bug me. For instance, the say that:

"Denmark (19th) dropped from joint first place because of serious threats against the authors of the Mohammed cartoons published there in autumn 2005."

However, this is not a restriction placed on the media by the government. Rather it's threats made by violent individuals, which the government is making active strides to combat. Ofcourse, the question that immediately comes to mind is "did they take similar circumstances into consideration for other countries". For instance, it would be grossly unfair to brink Denmark down 18 places because of this, while ignoring the fact that many media outlets in Canada refused to publish the Mohhammed cartoons exactly because they fear these types of threats and violence.

So, overall, this ranking seems to be based entirely on the opinions of the individuals who created it. You could have an equally scientific list if you simply picked 10 people at random and said "here's a list of all the worlds countries, now rank them based on how much freedom you think each of them afford the press".

Isaac Schrödinger

The treatment for Denmark and Canada is, indeed, ludicrous. Canada doesn't take a hit for freedom when her media refuses to show the most newsworthy images of the past year and yet Denmark does for doing the opposite.

The ranking ought to be inverted on this point.

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