Photograph by Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images.
The United States tumbled 27 places in the latest edition of the annual Press Freedom Index, thanks in large part to the rough treatment of journalists covering the Occupy Wall Street protests that took place around the country this past year.
Last year, the United States came in 20th, sandwiched between the United Kingdom and Canada at 19th and 21st place, respectively. After 2011, however, the United States finds itself tied for 47th place with Romania and Argentina on the list, which is compiled by Reporters Without Borders, a not-for-profit advocating for press freedom around the globe.
"The crackdown on protest movements and the accompanying excesses took their toll on journalists," the group explains in the annual report. "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 behaviour, public nuisance or even lack of accreditation."
The drop is not unprecedented, however. In 2005, the United States ranked 53rd on the list as a result of the imprisonment of journalists and what the group called the "deteriorated" relationship between the press and the George W. Bush administration.
Of course, put in a broader context, the Press Freedom Index documents much more severe violations of press freedom around the world, many of which were exacerbated by visible expressions of opposition movements, like those of the Arab Spring. Reporters Without Borders explains:
Crackdown was the word of the year in 2011. Never has freedom of information been so closely associated with democracy. Never have journalists, through their reporting, vexed the enemies of freedom so much. Never have acts of censorship and physical attacks on journalists seemed so numerous. The equation is simple: the absence or suppression of civil liberties leads necessarily to the suppression of media freedom. Dictatorships fear and ban information, especially when it may undermine them.
You can read the full report here.