Freitag, Oktober 21, 2005

Facts and Opinions Masquerading As Facts...

The blog North Sea Diaries has the right take on rather strange ranking.

The US rated #44 in press freedoms?

They say:

It reflects the degree of freedom journalists and news organisations enjoy in each country, and the efforts made by the state to respect and ensure respect for this freedom.

It includes every kind of violation directly affecting journalists (such as murders, imprisonment, physical attacks and threats) and news media (censorship, confiscation of issues, searches and harassment).

It registers the degree of impunity enjoyed by those responsible for such violations. It also takes account of the legal situation affecting the news media (such as penalties for press offences, the existence of a state monopoly in certain areas and the existence of a regulatory body) and the behaviour of the authorities towards the state-owned news media and the foreign press. It also takes account of the main obstacles to the free flow of information on the Internet.

We have taken account not only of abuses attributable to the state, but also those by armed militias, clandestine organisations or pressure groups that can pose a real threat to press freedom.

Now things become clearer. Obviously, since journalists aren't murdered for their activity, nor are they imprisoned (Miller doesn't count: she went to prison for reasons that no one understands besides Miller), physically attacked and threatened. Censorship, confiscation, searches and harrassment also don't happen as a matter of course. Nor is there any impunity. No legal penalities for press offences (now the Brits, they've got decent libel laws...), no state monopoly, no regulatory bodies (FCC as a regulatory body has to do with ownership, not content!), there is no state-owned media. And there aren't any obstacles on the Internet in the US. No armed militia, no clandestine organizations.

That leaves pressure groups. Oh, the inhumanity!

Woops, I just checked the original: apparently it IS Miller:

The United States (44th) fell more than 20 places, mainly because of the imprisonment of
New York Times reporter Judith Miller and judicial action that is undermining the privacy of
journalistic sources. Federal courts are getting increasingly bold about subpoenaing
journalists and trying to force them to disclose their confidential sources.

Now this is just plain silly. Miller didn't go to jail to protect a brave, confidential whistle-blower (Scooter Libby?): she claims she went to jail for the right to tell any and all judges that she wouldn't talk to them for any reason whatsoever. In other words, that she was above the law.

This is a new interpretation, of course, of the First Amendment: it's not Congress or the courts making the law, it's journalists out there who think that being a journalist means that you are therefore outside of the judicial system entirely. Wrong. You have, according the supreme court, the right not to disclose information about a source: you don't, however, have the right not to talk the court at all. Which is what Miller did and that's why she spent 85 days in jail.

But then again, and this is the original point: it doesn't reflect the degree of freedom, but rather the opinion of those questioned. And there isn't a list of those groups and people posted, but you can take this to the bank: the liberal bias will be as blatant there as it is in the MSM.

And until the link actually tells us the questions and the results, i.e. is itself transparent, then the study is yet another nail into the coffin of press believability.

And did you see that the top 17 countries are small, homogenous European countries? In countries like these, there isn't any need to concern yourself about freedom of the press, since there isn't enough of a base there to support more than one or two newspapers of note, the rest cater to the page 3 crowd of tabloids.

So I guess in order for the US to have a better rating, we'd need to provide complete legal immunity to anyone calling themselves a reporter. Nice work if you can get it.

Keine Kommentare: