Freedom of the press in the United States has plunged during the Obama administration, according to the 2014 Reporters Without Borders
World Press Freedom Index.
"The U.S. under President Obama, who once promised to run the 'most transparent' administration in the country's history, fell from 32nd to 46th in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index, a drop of 13 slots," The Washington Times reports.
The report reviews the state of media freedoms in 180 countries. Major declines occurred in the United States, the Central African Republic, and Guatemala, while marked improvements took place in Ecuador, Bolivia, and South Africa, according to the index compiled by the press advocacy group.
Finland, the Netherlands, and Norway continue to lead the index for press freedoms and government openness, while Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea "continue to be the biggest information black holes, again occupying the last three positions." Syria also ranked near the bottom.
The rating was based on seven criteria: the level of abuses, the extent of pluralism, media independence, the environment and self-censorship, the legislative framework, transparency, and infrastructure, according to Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Christophe Deloire.
"It makes governments face their responsibilities by providing civil society with an objective measure, and provides international bodies with a good governance indicator to guide their decisions," Deloire said in a statement.
The report cited the handling of three events as major contributors to the declining rating for reporter freedoms the United States, according to The Washington Times.
• Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden's disclosure of top secret information related to U.S. spying programs;
• Army Pvt. Bradley Manning's leak of classified documents to WikiLeaks;
• The Justice Department's handling of a probe of The Associated Press and other media organizations suspected of receiving leaked data.
Freedom of the press is increasingly under siege as governments around the globe are targeting journalists — to get to their sources and those people who leak sensitive information, according to the report.
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