There has been some commentary in the libertarian and right wing blogosphere over the US falling to #46 in press freedom rankings in the latest assessment from Reporters Without Borders.
While the US Constitution has a guarantee of freedom of the press in its First Amendment, the reality is that over the Bush and Obama Administrations, there has been a considerable drop in rankings. The depredations of the NSA and Obama’s ‘war on Fox’ are glaring examples.
Australia cannot feel too comfortable though. While press freedom lacks a constitutional guarantee here and we are considerably ahead of the States, we are well down the rankings at #28:
In Australia, the lack of adequate legislative protection for the confidentiality of journalists’ sources continues to expose them to the threat of imprisonment for contempt of court for refusing to reveal their sources. No fewer than seven requests for disclosure of sources were submitted to the courts in 2013 alone. …
This is not really much of an improvement on our #30 ranking during 2012 while Conroy and Gillard were pushing media controls including licensing journalists and a ‘fit and proper’ person test for media owners and a ‘super regulator to oversee the industry including bloggers. It is also a decline from last year’s #26.
New Zealand currently sits at #9 and there is little reason why as a fellow liberal democracy with a similar geographic position and much in common, why we shouldn’t have a similar standard of freedom.