Go figure: The United States ranks only 47th among 179 nations in the 10th Annual Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders — lower than such nations as Jamaica, Mali, Niger, El Salvador, and Papua New Guinea.
Reporters Without Borders is a France-based nongovernmental organization whose contributors include an institute funded by left-wing financier George Soros.
The index this year drops the United States from 20th last year to No. 47, due to “the many arrests of journalists covering Occupy Wall Street protests,” the organization states on its website.
“More than 25 [journalists] were subjected to arrests and beatings at the hands of police who were quick to issue indictments for inappropriate behavior, public nuisance or even lack of accreditation.”
Finland and Norway top the list in a tie for the best press freedom grade this year, followed by Estonia, the Netherlands, and Austria.
“This year’s index finds the same group of countries at its head, countries such as Finland, Norway and Netherlands that respect basic freedoms,” the website states. “This serves as a reminder that media independence can only be maintained in strong democracies and that democracy needs media freedom.”
At the bottom of the list are North Korea, Eritrea, and Turkmenistan, “absolute dictatorships that permit no civil liberties.” The next three nations with the lowest grade, Syria, Iran, and China, “seem to have lost contact with reality as they have been sucked into an insane spiral of terror.”
Other disclosures from this year’s report:
Following the Arab Spring uprisings, Tunisia rose 30 places to 134th in the index, while Bahrain fell 29 places to 173rd because of its relentless crackdown on the pro-democracy movement. Egypt fell 39 places to 166th.
The eight countries with the highest grades are all in Europe. Canada is highest in North America at No. 10.
But not all European nations are highly rated for press freedom. Montenegro is 107th, Albania 96th, Macedonia 94th, Bulgaria 80th, Greece 70th, and Italy 61st. Belarus is 168th.
Costa Rica is the highest-ranked nation in Latin America, at No. 19.
Pakistan, ranked 151st, was the world’s deadliest nation for journalists for the second year in a row.
Qatar, home of the Al-Jazeera news service, is ranked No. 114.
The African nation of Niger achieved the largest rise this year, 75 places to 29th, due to “a successful political transition.”
Another African nation, Malawi, fell 67 places to 146th because of the “totalitarian tendencies” of its president.
Other countries that ranked low include Vietnam, Yemen, Sudan, Burma, and Cuba.
“Many countries are marked by a culture of violence toward the media that has taken a deep hold,” the website observes.
“It will be hard to reverse the trends in these countries.”