October 25, 2003


Second World Press Freedom Ranking (Reporters Without Borders, 2003)

To compile this ranking, Reporters Without Borders asked journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists to fill out a questionnaire evaluating respect for press freedom in a particular country....

29. Benin
30. East Timor
31. Greece
31. United States of America (American territory)
130. Palestinian Authority
131. Morocco
132. Liberia
132. Ukraine
134. Afghanistan
135. United States of America (in Iraq)
136. Yemen

Special situation of the United States and Israel. The ranking distinguishes behaviour at home and abroad in the cases of the United States and Israel. They are ranked in 31st and 44th positions respectively as regards respect for freedom of expression on their own territory, but they fall to the 135th and 146th positions as regards behaviour beyond their borders.

I suspect if we ranked countries according to the criterion, "What would happen if we tried to publish the BrothersJudd blog within its borders?", U.S.-occupied Iraq would not rank below the Palestinian Authority, and the U. S. of A. would not rank below Benin.

However, Brian Leiter describes these rankings as "generous" to the U.S. Presumably he thinks the U.S. is worse than #34 Albania.

Posted by Paul Jaminet at October 25, 2003 3:19 PM

These rankings are about as useful and objective as the voting for prom king and queen, but the high school kids jot justify their voting with the self-rightous sanctimony and excuses for tyrrany you get from "journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists."

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at October 25, 2003 3:34 PM


Posted by: Lou Gots at October 25, 2003 4:24 PM

As I understand it, there are now over 100 newspapers in Iraq that are free to publish whatever they wish, which is in stark contrast to the situation under Saddam...

As to the US, how many countries have the concept of an unfettered press written into their founding documents ? I can think of only two, but I'm not an authority. It's certainly no more than a dozen.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 25, 2003 4:57 PM

What is this, Journalism Weekend on BJB?

I don't know what "respect for press freedom" might mean. And I have no idea how you would come up with an average across an entire nation, even if it did mean something.

You can either publish or you can't. Tipper Gore ranks low in that regard, Al Gore high.

But aside from things like child pornography, you can publish what you want when you want in the US. In fact, if you're just a little bit circumspect, you can publish child porn, too.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 25, 2003 8:11 PM

PJ would find it harder to publish this blog in Iraq if he supported the Baath Party or claimed that all Muslims had a sacred duty to expel the infidels: http://www.prospect.org/print/V14/9/gourevitch-a.html

This censorship is justifiable under the circumstances, but it is censorship and therefore lowered the rating. (Reporters Without Borders probably consider hanging Lord Haw Haw to have been a major atrocity.) The report also docked the US because it accidentally killed reporters during the war -- apparently, journalists in war zones are supposed to be immune from what's happening around them. Finally, the report looks at violence directed at journalists from any source, so if the offices of any newspaper have been attacked by goons who disagreed with its political views (which I can easily imagine happening in Iraq) then that would lower the ranking, too.

Posted by: Peter Caress at October 25, 2003 9:10 PM

Researchers of what?

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 25, 2003 9:36 PM

Reading the N.Y.Times and listening to N.P.R. and their broadcasts of B.B.C. I would guess the ratings may not be that far off.

Posted by: genecis at October 25, 2003 10:07 PM

In what country in the world can a journalist write a story bylined hundreds of miles away without leaving his hometown? Jayson Blair cuold and he worked for the paper olf record. Now that is freedom of the press...

Posted by: MG at October 25, 2003 10:34 PM

They spend far to much time inhailing their own vapors.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 26, 2003 10:03 PM