After tumbling 27 places in the rankings between 2011 and 2012, the United States recovered significant ground this year, rising 15 slots to 32nd. Last year’s downgrade was the result of police crackdown on reporters covering the Occupy Wall Street movement, which led to the imprisonment and beating of more than two dozen journalists, according to RSF. This was not the first time the American position in the ranking took a sudden nosedive – the US fell 20 places between 2004 and 2005 at the height of government-media tensions over the war on terror. “Even the US media climate reflects [political upheaval],” Halgand notes.
But just as the US began to right itself this year, Canada dropped 10 spots to 20th as a result of press difficulties in covering the widespread student protests there. But neither the US nor its northern neighbor came close to the press freedom enjoyed in the Western Hemisphere’s highest ranked nation, tiny Jamaica, which clocked in at 13th.