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Monday, June 05, 2017

2017 World Press Freedom Index Downplays Reporting Quality

Written by 9/11 TAP Staff
A new report entitled the World Press Freedom Index, published at the end of April by the Paris based “Reporters Sans Frontiers (RSF) or Reporters Without Borders)” states that the results of their annual survey shows that media freedom is being undermined by the rise in surveillance, authoritarian strongmen and propaganda across the globe.  RSF goes on to warn that press freedom has never been as threatened as it is now – in the "new post-truth era of fake news."  In its report they warn of a "tipping point" for journalism.

The World Press Freedom Index has been published every year since 2002 and is considered by some to be an important advocacy tool. The report is believed to have influence over government policies in some countries.  The influence is based on the assumed desire of one nation-state to have a higher rating than its perceived peers among other nation-states.

According to RSF, their index ranks 180 countries according to the level of freedom available to journalists. It does not rank public policies even if governments obviously have a major impact on their country’s ranking. RSF describes their index as a snapshot of the media freedom situation based on:

  • An evaluation of pluralism,
  • Independence of the media,
  • Quality of legislative framework and
  • Safety of journalists in each country.

RSF unveiled their findings at a launch event co-hosted by The Washington Post featuring media panelists from around the world.  [editor’s note: The Washington Post has been labeled by President Trump as the “phony and dishonest Washington Post”  and others know it as yet another media outlet that avoids the evidence of explosive controlled demolition of the World Trade Center skyscrapers on 9/11.]

Highlights of the RSF annual ranking show:

  • The US and Britain both slipped two places in the index to 43rd and 40th
  • Norway came out top of the index with the world's freest media
  • Finland, which had held the title for six years, slipped to second place.
  • Italy showed the biggest improvement, rising 25 places to 52nd place thanks to the acquittal of journalists tried in the Vatileaks II case, which exposed scandal at the top of the Catholic Church.
  • Syria, where a bloody civil war has entered its sixth year, was the deadliest country for journalists.

Journalistic Quality Not a Quantifiable Criteria

The quality of journalism is viewed as too subjective and their report rightfully observes that a precondition for a healthy news media is for journalists not be killed, imprisoned or seriously harassed.  The RSF concludes their report with the caveat stating, “The World Press Freedom Index not an indicator of the quality of journalism in each country.”  

The criteria evaluated in the questionnaire are pluralism, media independence, media environment and self-censorship, legislative framework, transparency, and the quality of the infrastructure that supports the production of news and information.

The methodology attempts to determine the degree of freedom available to journalists by pooling the responses of experts to a questionnaire. This qualitative analysis is combined with quantitative data on abuses and acts of violence against journalists during the period evaluated.

To compile the Index, media professionals, lawyers and sociologists selected by RSF answer an 87 question in an online questionnaire.  Scores are calculated on the basis of the responses of the experts combined with the data on abuses and violence against journalists during the period evaluated. The questionnaire is available in 20 languages including English, Arabic, Chinese, Russian, Indonesian and Korean.

Need for a Truth Friendly Media

For those that are aware of the dire circumstances surrounding media accountability—as evidenced by the media silence correcting the false narrative of the events on 9/11 –  it is clear from the warnings of Thomas Jefferson (written to John Jay, 1786), that he could foresee the precipice:

"Our liberty cannot be guarded but by the freedom of the press, nor that [freedom of the press] be limited without danger of losing it [our liberty]."  

The RSF “2017 World Press Freedom Index” sheds lights into some of the aspects of press freedom while excluding journalistic quality as one of their criteria.

In another quote by Thomas Jefferson (to Archibald Stuart, 1799), Jefferson states:

"Our citizens may be deceived for awhile, and have been deceived; but as long as the presses can be protected, we may trust to them for light."  

911 TAP Strategic Plan

The 911 TAP Strategic Plan calls for supporting and encouraging truth friendly media so that we can trust them to shed light on the flaws in government and awaken a grass roots movement to take back the country and help facilitate the evolution to a “Truth Friendly Congress.”

Section 3.3 of the 911 TAP Strategic Plan calls for its members to, “Bring about the ascendancy of an independent, Truth-friendly media as the dominant source of 9/11 news and interpretation by partnering with existing independent media, including convincing them to cover 9/11 Truth issues and to do so fairly, generating interesting, news-worthy content to cover, and helping them obtain increased financial support.”

Journalism in the Absence of Quality

Widespread mainstream media reporting that ignores facts and seeks to develops a consensus based on incomplete stories was recognized as a danger to democracy, in another quote by Thomas Jefferson (to G. K. van Hogendorp, Oct. 13, 1785):

"The most effectual engines for [pacifying a nation] are the public papers... [A despotic] government always [keeps] a kind of standing army of newswriters who, without any regard to truth or to what should be like truth, [invent] and put into the papers whatever might serve the ministers. This suffices with the mass of the people who have no means of distinguishing the false from the true paragraphs of a newspaper."

United States Drops 2 places to 43

According to the RSF overview for America, the First Amendment under increasing attack.   The key issues they raise are Donald Trump’s statements about the “press being an enemy of the people.”  Their overview states:

US press freedom, enshrined in the First Amendment to the 1787 constitution, has encountered several major obstacles over the past few years, most recently with the election of President Donald Trump. He has declared the press an “enemy of the American people” in a series of verbal attacks toward journalists, while attempting to block White House access to multiple media outlets in retaliation for critical reporting. Despite the bleak outlook under Trump, it bears repeating that his predecessor left behind a flimsy legacy for press freedom and access to information. Journalists continue to be arrested for covering various protests around the country, with several currently facing criminal charges. The Obama administration waged a war on whistleblowers who leaked information about its activities, leading to the prosecution of more leakers than any previous administration combined. To this day, American journalists are still not protected by a federal “shield law” guaranteeing their right to protect their sources and other confidential work-related information. And over the past few years, there has been an increase in prolonged searches of journalists and their devices at the US border, with some foreign journalists being prevented from any travel to the US after they covered sensitive topics such as Colombia's FARC or Kurdistan.

Canada Drops 4 places to 22

The RSF overview for Canada, which declined 4 places states:

Prime Minister Trudeau has strongly advocated for a “free media” but the past year has shown this to be dead letter. While Canada guarantees freedom of the press under its 1982 constitution, circumstances faced by journalists say otherwise. Several members of the press have been under police surveillance in Quebec in an attempt to uncover internal leaks. A VICE News reporter is currently fighting a court order compelling him to hand over communications with his source to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, while another journalist for The Independent is facing up to 10 years in prison for his coverage of protests against a hydroelectric project in Labrador. Journalists in the country are not currently protected by any “shield law” and legislation like controversial Bill C-51 uses national security as an excuse to chill free speech and expression online.

Reporters Without Borders in the United States

Reporters Without Borders USA was founded in 2004 in New York City with the objective to extend the international mission of Reporters Sans Frontières within the United States.  It’s stated mission is to protect and defend journalists working both internationally and in the United States and strives to play a central role in the assistance to journalists, expand grassroots activities in support of their mission, and assist in the communication and the advocacy missions of the whole RSF organization.

Americans claim to treasure their First Amendment rights but do not always realize the extent to which freedom of information is at risk nationally, globally, and how that affects their own right to be informed. Reporters Without Borders USA (RSF USA) seeks to raise awareness among Americans to this fact and getting Americans involved in preserving freedom of information at home and abroad.  

9/11 Truth advocates should consider pressing RSF and Reporters Without Borders USA to include some test for quality that would, at a minimum, include adherence to scientific evidence – such as the impossibility of the free-fall acceleration of the World Trade Center Building 7 if the destruction was caused by normal office fires.

RSF USA Board of Directors
•    Chairman: Peter Price, President of Premieres Previews Former President and CEO of The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
•    President & Treasurer: Delphine Halgand, U.S. Director, Reporters Without Borders
•    Secretary: Seth Redniss, Attorney

RSF USA Advisory Board
•    Maryam Banikarim, Global Chief Marketing Officer for Hyatt Hotels Corporation
•    Barbara Taylor Bradford O.B.E., Author, Journalist
•    Mrs. Bradford was recently appointed an Ambassador for the National Literacy Trust in the UK.
•    Elizabeth Colton, Diplomat, Journalist
•    Derek Evans, ethicist
•    Jeff Glor, Anchor for CBS
•    Jim Hoagland, Contributing Editor for the Washington Post
•    John MacArthur, President and Publisher of Harper’s magazine
•    Michael Meyer, Founding dean of the Aga Khan University
•    Ellen Ratner, News Talk Radio Bureau Chief
•    James Schwab, Co-President of VICE Media
•    Guy Sorman, President of France Amerique, the only French US based media company
•    Brian Storm, Executive producer, Founder of MediaStorm


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