Freedom Index

The US is becoming a more dangerous place for reporters to do their jobs, according to the just-released 2019 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.

The US slipped three notches to No. 48 of the 180 countries/territories measured, falling from the "satisfactory" to "problematic" category.

The slippage, according to RWB, goes beyond the "fake news" taunts of Donald Trump.  

"Never before have journalists been subjected to so many death threats or turned so often to private security firms for protection," says RWB.

The group cites the June shooting of four journalists and another staffer of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis as an example of hatred of the media.

The Americas region showed the biggest deterioration  (3.6 percent) of media freedom sparked by declines in the US, Brazil, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Mexico.

The EU and the Balkans registered the second biggest deterioration at 1.7 percent.  

World Press Freedom Index 2019: US ranks #48

France slipped a notch to No. 32 due to violence at the Yellow Vest protests. French news crews now require bodyguards to cover the demonstrations and conceal the logos of their channels from the protesters. 

Hungary fell 14 places to No. 87 as officials in prime minister's Viktor Orban's Fidesz political party refuse to answer questions from journalists viewed as non-friendly to Fidesz.

Poland slipped as its "state-owned media have been turned into propaganda tools and are increasingly used to harass journalists," according to the report.

Russia was down a notch to No. 149 as the Kremlin used arrests, arbitrary searches and draconian laws to pressure independent media and the Internet.

Norway, for the third year running, is the best place for journalists. 

Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands follow.

The Index is based on the level of pluralism, media independence, environment for the media and self-censorship, legal framework, transparency and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.