GBU Mountain News LXXI August 20, 2014.pdf
GBU Mountain News
August 20, 2014 - LXXI
The United States ranks only No. 46 on
the Global Press Freedom Index, next to
Romania (No.45), Haiti (No. 47), and
Niger (No. 48) – Ferguson shows why!
by Gunnar J Kuepper
The GBU Mountain News reported earlier this year that
the United States ranks only No. 46 on the Global Press
Freedom Index, next to Romania (No.45), Haiti (No. 47),
and Niger (No. 48). The Press Freedom Index is an
annual ranking of nations compiled and published by
Reporters Without Borders. It reflects the degree of
freedom that journalists, news organizations, and
netizens enjoy in each country, as well as the efforts
made by the government and authorities to respect and
ensure the Freedom of the Press.
Not surprisingly nations such as Finland (No. 1), The
Netherlands (No. 2), Norway (No. 3), and Luxembourg
(No. 4) lead the list. Austria (No. 12), Germany (No. 14),
and Switzerland (No. 15) are listed in the first twenty
ranks out of 180 nations. As to be expected the Freedom
of the Press is assessed as nearly non-existent in
countries such as Iran (No 173), China (175), Somalia
(No. 176), or North Korea (No. 179).
Why is it that the U.S. is shamefully ranked No. 47, even
behind Uruguay (No. 26) El Salvador (No. 38) or
Botswana (No. 41)?
The current events in Ferguson, Missouri are a very
regrettable example on how a number of U.S. authorities
harass journalists, violate the Freedom of the Press, and
abuse their power.
Violence against reporters, photo- and videographers and
news crews by state troopers, local law enforcement
officers, and federal clandestine organizations is not
limited to dictatorial nations in the third world nations, it
is very much alive in today's United States.
In the city of Ferguson, journalists have repeatedly been
ordered to stop filming police actions since protests
began on August 10, 2014..
Ferguson is a suburb outside of St. Louis with a
population of 21,000. The city has been the site of
protests and vigils after 18 year-old African American
Michael Brown was shot to death in a struggle with
police on August 9, 2014.
On August 13, 2014 Washington Post reporter Wesley
Lowery was ordered by police to stop filming a raid at a
McDonalds restaurant and to leave immediately. Law
enforcement in military gear arrested him and Huffington
Post reporter Ryan Reilly. "Officers slammed me into a
fountain soda machine because I was confused about
which door they were asking me to walk out of," Lowry
wrote on Twitter. He also said that he and Reilly were
released without paperwork or charges, and that the
officers refused to provide the reporters with their names.
Martin Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post,
issued a statement, stating "there was absolutely no
justification for Wesley Lowery's arrest," and that the
police behavior "was wholly unwarranted and an assault
on the freedom of the press to cover the news."
Other reporters and news outlets have complained about
being refused access to the town as well as the
restrictions and threats of law enforcement personnel
towards the media. Two reporters from the National
Journal were repeatedly rebuffed on Wednesday, August
13 by police while trying to approach the protest sites.
They were told they’d likely be arrested if they tried to
walk to the protest site.
One of the iconic images of Getty Photographer
Scott Olsen before he was arrested in Ferguson
Also, on Wednesday, August 13, police, apparently a
SWAT team, fired a tear gas container at an Al-Jazeera
America camera crew — and later dismantled their
equipment after the crew fled. KSDK photojournalist
Eric Voss, captured the now iconic video of police firing
the tear gas at the Al Jezeera America TV crew. The
veteran with 20 years of journalism experience described
the situation: “I was shooting a story on the opening of
school being delayed. We were outside of the protest
area in a neighborhood and the Al Jezeera crew was a
half block away. Police formed a line and started moving
and the Al Jezeera crew yelled ‘we are the press, we are
the press, we are the press.’” Voss said police fired a tear
gas canister that bounced off the crew’s vehicle. “The
journalists ran away and I saw the police disassemble
their lights and tilt the camera to the ground, they left it
on the tripod.” Then, Voss said, police turned their