In last night’s State of the Union address, President Obama called for a “renewal of American values.” However, over the course of his wide-ranging speech, he made no mention of one core value: the fundamental role of the free press in America.
This absence was highlighted this morning when Reporters Without Borders released its 2011–2012 global Press Freedom Index. After months of journalist arrests and press suppression at Occupy Wall Street-inspired protests, the United States has dropped significantly in the rankings.
According to this report, the U.S. has dropped 27 places to 47th in the world. This is especially troubling as we head into an election year which is sure to spark new conflicts between police and press covering rallies, protests and political events.
And these Occupy arrests are not isolated incidents. According to organizations like the Society for Professional Journalists, the National Press Photographers Association and the Committee to Protect Journalists, the arrests at Occupy events are part of a growing trend in the U.S. and worldwide.