Think You’re Free? America Drops To 49th In World Press Freedom Rankings (WORLD MAP)

Is the United States the land of the free? According to Reporters Without Borders (RFB), 48 are countries doing a better job of providing citizens with a free press. The United States slipped three spots to number 49 on the list in 2015.

Reporters Without Borders is a free press watchdog operating internationally since 1995. They release an annual report ranking 180 countries according to a number of factors:

“The Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index ranks the performance of 180 countries according to a range of criteria that include media pluralism and independence, respect for the safety and freedom of journalists, and the legislative, institutional and infrastructural environment in which the media operate.”

While the United States has never topped the RFB’s index, it has fared better in the past. As recently as 2010, the U.S. ranked number 20 on the list. RFB cites three primary reasons for the low ranking. The first involves judicial harassment of New York Times reporter James Risen:

“2014 was marked by judicial harassment of New York Times investigative reporter James Risen in connection with the trial of Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA officer charged under the Espionage Act with giving him classified information. US journalists are still not protected by a federal shield law that would guarantee their right not to name their sources or reveal other confidential information about their work.”

RFB also cites arbitrary arrests of journalists covering the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri:

“Meanwhile, at least 15 journalists were arbitrarily arrested during clashes between police and demonstrators protesting against black teenager Michael Brown’s fatal shooting by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri.”

A continuing blemish for the United States is its behavior regarding Wikileaks. The U.S. has continued its war on Wikileaks for doing nothing more than exercising its right to a free press as guaranteed by the First Amendment,

“The NSA’s surveillance, the US government’s attempts to bring judicial proceedings against WikiLeaks and the criminalization of the website’s publisher, Julian Assange, constitute a violation of freedom of information,” Reporters Without Borders said.

Sadly, many of the United States’ closest allies rank even lower on the list. Allies such as Saudi Arabia (164), Bahrain (163), Egypt (158), the UAE (120), and Israel (101) all rank poorly.

While one might expect Israel to offer broader press freedom, their rankings have dropped dramatically since 2009. In 2014, 15 journalists and media workers were killed while covering Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. Israel banned unfavorable content on Israeli TV. Finally, Palestinian journalists in the West Bank were deliberately pelted by rubber bullets and tear gas.

The 2015 World Press Freedom Rankings, full country index,