Every year the group Reporters Without Borders for Freedom of Information issues a report on the state of press freedom around the world.
In it, the organization analyzes the degree of freedom that “journalists, news media and netizens” have in nearly 180 countries around the world. Among the items that are quantified by the study are the number of murders and physical attacks on journalists, attempts at censorship of news outlets, and the level of punishment given to those who violate the rights of journalists. It also tries to measure the level of self-censorship that reporters engage in to avoid trouble with censors.
Countries gain points for things that discourage or limit freedom of the press; they get point deducted for pro-free speech behavior. As of 2012, Finland and Norway were tied for first place with a score of -10. The country in last place, with 142 points was African nation Eritrea, which has had the dubious honor of having the least free speech in the world for the last five years in a row.
And as for the United States? Take a look at the report’s summary. You might, or might not, be surprised at where it was ranked. (HINT: 2011-2012 was not a good year for freedom of speech or the press in the U.S., with numerous reporters getting arrested while covering the “Occupy” movement.)
- You can read the introduction to the 2011/12 report here, as well as seeing the rankings.
- You can download the entire 2011/12 report here.