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We're #47! After Occupy Journalist Arrests, US Plummets in Global Press Freedom Rankings

- Common Dreams staff

Reporters Without Borders has released its annual World Press Freedom Index and the United States fell 27 points to No. 47 on the list. Why? "more than 25 [reporters] were subjected to arrests and beatings at the hands of police" during Occupy movement protests.

Journalist Kristyna Wentz-Graff, whose press badge is visible, was arrested while covering an Occupy protest in November. "The worldwide wave of protests in 2011 also swept through the New World. It dragged the United States (47th) and Chile (80th) down the index, costing them 27 and 47 places respectively. The crackdown on protest movements and the accompanying excesses took their toll on journalists. In the space of two months in the United States, more than 25 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."

Free Press reports:

In last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama called for a “renewal of American values.” However, over the course of his wide-ranging speech, he made no mention of one core value: the fundamental role of the free press in America.

This absence was highlighted this morning when Reporters Without Borders released its 2011–2012 global Press Freedom Index. After months of journalist arrests and press suppression at Occupy Wall Street-inspired protests, the United States has dropped significantly in the rankings.

According to this report, the U.S. has dropped 27 places to 47th in the world. This is especially troubling as we head into an election year which is sure to spark new conflicts between police and press covering rallies, protests and political events.

And these Occupy arrests are not isolated incidents. According to organizations like the Society for Professional Journalists, the National Press Photographers Association and the Committee to Protect Journalists, the arrests at Occupy events are part of a growing trend in the U.S. and worldwide.


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