Page A15 = Not News

Retorical question: Why did the Washington Post run the article about the drop in the US ranking on freedom of the press on page A15?

Some poor countries, such as Mauritania and Haiti, improved their record in a global press freedom index this year, while France, the United States and Japan slipped further down the scale of 168 countries rated, the group Reporters Without Borders said yesterday.

The news media advocacy organization said the most repressive countries in terms of journalistic freedom — such as North Korea, Cuba, Burma and China — made no advances at all.

The organization’s fifth annual Worldwide Press Freedom Index tracks actions against news media through the end of September. The group noted its concern over the declining rankings of some Western democracies as well as the persistence of other countries in imposing harsh punishments on media that criticize political leaders.

On the other hand, this really got Spiegel-Online’s panties in a bunch. They ran at least two top stories and seemed scandalized. (Germany landed on place 23, a full 30 places in front of the US.) Finland, Iceland, Ireland and the Netherlands tied for number one! Hurrah Iceland!

The original press release from Reporters without Borders can be found here and here is the technique used to create the ranking.

In the case of Germany, it seems the lower ranking has to do with the BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst, like a Teutonic CIA/FBI) monitoring journalists and keeping secret dossiers about them. Oh, that and the fact that the government doesn’t answer questions. Those pesky little ‘No Comment’ comments. Unless, of course, it’s in the government’s interest to comment. (Yawn)

The reasons for the US fall from grace are less than new. In fact, the reasons are so well known, the Washington Post didn’t even feel the whole thing was really news and buried the story on page A15. No freedom of the press in the US. Just not news.

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