U.S. Scores Lower in Media Independence due to Bush adminstration pay-offs of press

Freedom House, a non-profit, nonpartisan organization, is a clear voice for democracy and freedom around the world. Through a vast array of international programs and publications, Freedom House is working to advance the remarkable worldwide expansion of political and economic freedom.
While press freedom registered important gains in some key countries in 2004, notable setbacks occurred in the United States and elsewhere in the Americas, according to a major study released on April 27 by Freedom House. Increased restrictions were also detected in parts of Asia, Africa, and the former Soviet Union.

"Freedom of the Press 2005: A Global Survey of Media Independence," revealed that gains outnumbered setbacks, as measured by shifts among the survey's three main categories: Free, Partly Free and Not Free. Improvements took place in countries where new democratic openings have been achieved or are burgeoning, such as in Ukraine and Lebanon. Several countries in the Middle East showed positive trends.

However, the overall level of press freedom worldwide-as measured by global average score-worsened, continuing a three-year downward trend according to the survey. Notable setbacks took place in Pakistan, Kenya, Mexico, Venezuela, and in the world's most powerful democracy, the United States.
While the United States remained one of the strongest performers in the survey, its numerical score declined due to a number of legal cases in which prosecutors sought to compel journalists to reveal sources or turn over notes or other material they had gathered in the course of investigations. Additionally, doubts concerning official influence over media content emerged with the disclosures that several political commentators received grants from federal agencies, and that the Bush administration had significantly increased the practice of distributing government-produced news segments.

The report was released in advance of World Press Freedom Day, May 3.