Archive for February, 2015


America’s Press Freedom Ranking is Declining

Reporters Without Borders has released its annual World Press Freedom Index for this year. The United States has slipped again, ranking #49 out of 180 countries.

That puts the U.S. in the lower end of the “Satisfactory Situation” category but perilously close to the “Noticeable Problems” category that begins with Haiti at #53.

Reporters Without Borders cited concerns about “judicial harassment” of a New York Times investigative reporter, the lack of a federal shield law to protect American journalists from naming their sources, and more than a dozen reporters who “were arbitrarily arrested during clashes between police and demonstrators” in Ferguson, Missouri.

The World Press Freedom Index is just one analysis of global media trends, but it is a respected one, and this year’s results confirm some of my concerns about the health of our nation’s news media system.

We’re going in the wrong direction.

I would like to initiate a conversation about the role media educators might play in reversing this slide. Please share some of your ideas and concerns, either through comments on this blog or through my Twitter account @ButlerCain.

I’ll follow up with another post about your thoughts and suggestions, and maybe through our collective wisdom we might start identifying ways to tackle this troubling trend.

Butler Cain is an Assistant Professor of Mass Communication at West Texas A&M University in Canyon, Texas. He is chair of SPJ’s Journalism Education Committee.

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