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U.S. Ranked 36th Freest Press in the World

March 28, 2009 | 46,429 views

press, media, freedomIt is not economic prosperity but peace that guarantees press freedom. That is the main lesson to be drawn from the world press freedom index that Reporters Without Borders compiles every year and from the 2008 edition.

Said Reporters Without Borders:

“The post-9/11 world is now clearly drawn. Destabilized and on the defensive, the leading democracies are gradually eroding the space for freedoms. The economically most powerful dictatorships arrogantly proclaim their authoritarianism, exploiting the international community’s divisions and the ravages of the wars carried out in the name of the fight against terrorism.

Religious and political taboos are taking greater hold by the year in countries that used to be advancing down the road of freedom.”

Aside from New Zealand and Canada, the first 20 positions on the Index are held by European countries, with Iceland, Luxembourg and Norway tied for first. While the economic disparities among the top 20 are immense, what they have in common is a parliamentary democratic system, and not being involved in any war. This is not the case with the United States, which ranks 36th domestically and 119th outside its own territory.

The worst violators of free expression were Turkmenistan (171st), North Korea (172nd) and Eritrea (173rd).

Dr. Mercola's Comments:

The United States was founded in large part on the first amendment, which includes the freedom of speech. So for the U.S. to be ranked only 36th for free press sure seems like a colossal step backwards.

And believe it or not, this is a vast improvement from where the U.S. has ranked in the past. In 2006, the U.S. was only 53rd on the Index, and it rose 12 more places in the last year alone.

At the top of the list were Iceland, Luxembourg and Norway. These were the countries with no recorded censorship, threats, intimidation or physical reprisals.

Why is free press in the United States not on par with these European countries?

Reporters Without Borders compiles the Index by asking the 14 freedom of expression organizations that are its partners worldwide, its network of 130 correspondents, as well as journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists, to answer 50 questions about press freedom in their countries. In response, here is what they had to say about press in the United States:

• The release of Al-Jazeera cameraman Sami Al-Haj after six years in the Guantanamo Bay military base contributed to the United States’ improved ranking.

• The absence of a federal “shield law” means the confidentiality of media sources is still threatened by federal courts, but the number of journalists being subpoenaed or forced to reveal their sources has declined in recent months and none has been sent to prison.

• The August 2007 murder of Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey in Oakland, California is still unpunished a year later. The way the investigation into his murder has become enmeshed in local conflicts of interest and the lack of federal judicial intervention also help to explain why the United States did not get a higher ranking.

• Account was also taken of the many arrests of journalists during the Democratic and Republican conventions.

It’s worth pointing out that the Index measures press freedom violations, such as harassment, censorship, the legal framework of the media, the independence of the public media, Internet restrictions and financial pressure.

So to really get the whole picture on the media in the United States, it helps to have some other background information as well.

Who Controls the U.S. Media?

For the most part, the media spreads a lot of misinformation and corporate propaganda. This is not at all surprising considering that Time Warner, Disney, Murdoch's News Corporation, Bertelsmann of Germany, Viacom (formerly CBS) and General Electric's NBC are the top owners of the entire media industry, which includes everything you read and hear in newspapers, magazines, TV and radio stations, books, records, movies, videos, wire services and photo agencies.

In the last 15 years alone, your sources for news have shrunk drastically. Whereas in 1983, 50 corporations ruled the U.S. news media, by 2004 this number decreased to a minuscule six corporations!

As you might imagine, with just six corporations deciding what’s worthy of news and what’s not, you end up with sensationalized tragedies, celebrity features, and anything else that will capture people’s attention.

There is virtually no competition in the media market today whatsoever, and this spells disaster for all types of news, including health information.

Unbiased, REAL Information IS Out There

Even though the United States enjoys access to much more free press than many other countries, the system is clearly not without flaws and you simply cannot rely on a news station, newspaper or any other media outlet to provide you with unbiased, reliable information.

However, the Internet and technology have seriously leveled the playing field when it comes to having access to reliable, unbiased information, and is one of the primary reasons why I remain highly confident that we are making more than a dent in the media process.

The Internet has really become one of the last bastions of independent, free-thinking news available -- and I am proud to be one of the top-ranked independent voices in the vastness of corporate monopoly, offering objective information to empower you with alternative choices that can radically improve your health, open your eyes to the truth, and keep you and your family safely out of the mainstream media madness.

As you weed through the information you read or hear on a daily basis, always remember this important piece of wisdom:

All truth goes through three phases.

   1. First, it is ridiculed.
   2. Second, it is violently opposed.
   3. Third, it is accepted as being self evident.

So if you want to get to the truth, you often have to keep an open mind, do more than a little bit of digging, and even then take everything you read and hear with a grain of salt.

[+] Sources and References

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