Following a year of violent crackdowns on peaceful protests around the country, the United States fell 27 places on the Reporters Without Borders tenth annual Press Freedom Index of 2011 to 47th overall, more than doubling its 2010 standing at 20th.
Reporters Without Borders announced, “Never have journalists, through their reporting, vexed the enemies of freedom so much. Never have acts of censorship and physical attacks on journalists seemed so numerous.”
“Many media paid dearly for their coverage of democratic aspirations or opposition movements. Control of news and information continued to tempt governments and to be a question of survival for totalitarian and repressive regimes. The past year also highlighted the leading role played by netizens in producing and disseminating news.”
Reporters Without Borders said the United States “owed its fall of 27 places to the many arrests of journalists covering Occupy Wall Street protests.” America’s stunning 135% decline was unmatched in terms of the percentage of movement from the previous year.
Only Chile, who dropped from 33 to 80, joined the U.S. in falling over 100% of their previous ranking. Similarly, Chile was downgraded for “freedom of information violations committed by the security forces during student protests.”
Additionally, only a handful of other countries saw such dramatic falls; Bahrain fell 29 places, Egypt fell 39 places, Uganda fell 43 places, and three other African dictatorships plummeted.
Another notable decease was Brazil’s fall of 41 places to 99th “because the high level of violence resulted in the deaths of three journalists and bloggers.”