Press Freedom Index: Occupy Wall Street Journalist Arrests Cost U.S. Dearly In Latest Survey
The targeting of journalists covering the Occupy Wall Street movement has caused the United States to drop precipitously in a leading survey of press freedom.
Reporters Without Borders' latest Press Freedom Index was released on Wednesday, and the list reflected some of the tumult that took place in the world in 2011, as well as the impact that those events had on journalists across the globe. Reporters became targets over and over again throughout the year, both in the Middle East and on the streets of New York.
Some examples of the change wrought by the Arab Spring could be found in Tunisia, which the compilers moved up 30 places on the list in the wake of that country's democratic revolution. Not so lucky were Bahrain and Egypt, both of which cracked down on journalists and on the popular movements pressing for further change in their countries. They fell 29 and 39 places, respectively, on the scale.
But the U.S. tumbled almost as far as Bahrain did in the wake of the repeated crackdowns on journalists covering Occupy movements. Reporters Without Borders was explicit in its summary of its report, saying that "the United States (47th) also owed its fall of 27 places to the many arrests of journalist covering Occupy Wall Street protests."
The treatment of journalists by police was well documented throughout 2011. Reporters were beaten, arrested and prevented from covering police action against Occupy protesters. Tensions heightened so much that the New York Police Department had to meet with journalists and remind its officers not to mistreat them.
Below, see the 10 worst and 10 best countries for press freedom.
10th WORST Country For Press Freedom: Sudan
Sudanese Minister of Information Kamal Mohammed Obeid unveils in front of journalists the new map of Sudan in Khartoum on July 4, 2011 ahead of the formal independence of the south on July 9. AFP PHOTO/ASHRAF SHAZLY (Photo credit should read ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)
A Yemeni woman holds a picture of Yemeni journalist Mohammed al-Maqlih during a sit-in in Sanaa by Yemeni journalists and relatives of detained press members on February 6, 2010. Several journalists in Yemen have been detained by the government over their coverage of the unrest in the country. AFP PHOTO/MOHAMED HUWAIS (Photo credit should read MOHAMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)
A street newspaper vendor looks at the building of the Hanoi People's Court where two journalists are standing trial for their coverage of a major state corruption scandal on October 15, 2008 in Hanoi. The court sentenced one of them, Nguyen Viet Chien from Thanh Nien daily to two years in prison being found guilty of 'abusing democratic freedoms to infringe upon the interests of the state'. AFP PHOTO/HOANG DINH Nam
Bahraini National guard arrest journalist Alex Delmar-Morgan of the Wall Street Journal as he walks towards Pearl Square in the Bahraini capital Manama, on March 16, 2011, after Bahraini police killed three protesters and wounded dozens more as they assaulted a peaceful protest camp after dawn in the capital's Pearl Square, an opposition party official said. Morgan was later freed after some 3 hours in detention. AFP PHOTO/JOSEPH EID (Photo credit should read JOSEPH EID/AFP/Getty Images)
Police take the details of foreign journalists outside the studio of Chinese artist Ai Weiwei in Beijing on November 14, 2011. The lawyer for Ai Weiwei Pu Zhiqiang said the tax office in Beijing has refused to accept money the activist needs to pay in order to lodge an appeal against a huge tax bill. AFP PHOTO/Peter PARKS (Photo credit should read PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images)
Jens Koch one of the two German reporters freed by the Iranian authority, is seen at Tehran's Mehrabbad Airport after arriving from Tabriz on February 19, 2011. The German reporters Marcus Hellwig and Koch, who were held by the authorities for interviewing the son and lawyer of a woman sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, were freed after the courts commuted their jail terms to 50,000-dollar fines. AFP PHOTO/ATTA KENARE
A Syrian man reads the daily state-run newspaper Tishrin in a cafe decorated with portraits of President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus on April 3, 2011. Syria's former agriculture minister Adel Safar was asked by the president to form a new government, the state-run news agency SANA reported. AFP PHOTO/ANWAR AMRO
ASHGABAD, TURKMENISTAN: Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov (R) sit during their meeting in Ashgabat, 11 May 2007. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkmen counterpart Gurbanguly Berdymukhammedov promised closer energy ties on Friday as the Kremlin leader continued a visit challenging European and US influence in the Caspian region. AFP PHOTO / ITAR-TASS POOL / PRESIDENTIAL PRESS SERVICE (Photo credit should read MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images)
2. North Korea
Journalists try to get a glimpse of North Korean mourners at a North Korean restaurant watching a telecast of the funeral of the late leader Kim Jong-Il, at the North Korean and Chinese border town of Dandong on December 28, 2011. North Korea is preparing a massive ceremonial farewell to late leader Kim Jong-Il as it strove to strengthen a new personality cult around his youthful son and successor Jong-Un. The secretive state has so far given no details of the December 28 funeral for its 'Dear Leader' of the past 17 years. But analysts say the regime, as it did in 1994 when Kim Jong-Il's own father died, will use the event to shore up loyalty to the new leader and will likely mobilise hundreds of thousands of people. AFP PHOTO/Mark RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)
File picture of a woman walking near a monument erected in memory of the martyrs of the Ethiopia-Eritrea's war that started in 1998 and lasted four years, in the disputed Horn of Africa border town of Badme between Ethiopia and Eritrea on November 5, 2008. Tensions remain high in this border zone between Ethiopia and Eritrea after the withdrawal of UN peace keepers in charge of monitoring the border. The village was the starting point of the two and a half year war between the two countries in May 1998 that left at least 80.000 dead. AFP PHOTO/Stringer/FILES
10th BEST country for press freedom: Canada
Journalists listen from Toronto media center French President Nicolas Sarkozy giving a press conference at the G8 summit on June 26, 2010 in Hunstville, Ontario. AFP PHOTO ERIC FEFERBERG (Photo credit should read ERIC FEFERBERG/AFP/Getty Images)
9. Cape Verde
Cape Verde's Newly elected President Jorge Carlos Fonseca delivers a speech in Praia in September 9, 2011, after his inauguration ceremony as new President of Cape Verde by the National Assembly. Cape Verde is a parliamentary democracy in which the president plays a ceremonial role as head of state. AFP PHOTO / SEYLLOU (Photo credit should read SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images)
Luxembourg Prime Minister and Eurogroup President Jean-Claude Juncker addresses journalists as he arrives for an informal dinner gathering European Union (EU) heads of State or government on the eve of an European Union summit at the EU headquarters on December 8, 2011 in Brussels. AFP PHOTO / GEORGES GOBET (Photo credit should read GEORGES GOBET/AFP/Getty Images)
Prime Minister and leader of the Social-Democrats party Johanna Sigurdardottir (L and on screen) answers journalists question during a press conference in Reykjavik on April 25, 2009. Iceland's general election got underway Saturday seven months after the country's economic collapse, with voters expected to snub the party seen as responsible for the crisis in favour of the interim leftist government. Public opinion polls have suggested a comfortable victory for the pro-EU Social Democratic Party, led by Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, and its junior coalition partner the Left Green Movement. AFP PHOTO OLIVIER MORIN. (Photo credit should read OLIVIER MORIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Austria Federal Chancellor Werner Faymann addresses journalists as he arrives for an informal dinner gathering European Union (EU) heads of State or government on the eve of an European Union summit at the EU headquarters on December 8, 2011 in Brussels. AFP PHOTO / JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN (Photo credit should read JEAN-CHRISTOPHE VERHAEGEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves (L) and his Finnish counterpart Tarja Halonen hold a press conference as they meet in Helsinki on October 17, 2011. AFP PHOTO / LEHTIKUVA / Vesa Moilanen *** FINLAND OUT *** (Photo credit should read VESA MOILANEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Journalists film as International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo gives a press conference at the International Criminal Court in the Hague, on January 24, 2012 one day after the ICC ruled that Kenya's deputy prime minister and another presidential hopeful are among four suspects who should be tried over deadly post-poll unrest four years ago. Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki appealed for calm in the east African country amid fears the Hague-based court's anxiously awaited confirmation of charges hearing could revive ethnic and political tensions. AFP PHOTO / ANP - MARCEL ANTONISSE netherlands out - belgium out (Photo credit should read MARCEL ANTONISSE/AFP/Getty Images)
Journalists wait in line for a final security check in the court house in Oslo on November 14, 2011 before the hearing for of Anders Behring Breivik. Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old rightwing extremist being held at the high-security Ila prison near Oslo, is scheduled to appear before a judge at the Oslo district court on Monday for a hearing on the extension of his custody for 12 more weeks. AFP Photo / Berit Roald / Scanpix Norway (Photo credit should read BERIT ROALD/AFP/Getty Images)
Journalists taste a 200-year-old champagne, on November 17, 2010 in Mariehamn. Finnish officials pop the cork of a 200-year-old bottle of champagne, after 70 bottles of what is believed to be the world's oldest bubbly were discovered on July 2010 in a shipwreck, at a depth of fifty meters, southeast of Mariehamn, on the southwestern Finnnish Aaland Islands of the Baltic Sea. AFP PHOTO/JONATHAN NACKSTRAND (Photo credit should read JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images)