Reporters Without Borders has published its 2009 Press Freedom Index, documenting the current state of media repression and threats to independent and critical reporting worldwide. One of the report’s major findings for 2009 was that Europe, long considered a model for free press, was slipping in press freedom rankings. France, Slovakia, and Italy were named as countries whose rankings continued to fall from 2008.

Iran, still reeling from protests and extensive media repression by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is reported to have “reached the gates of the infernal trio at the very bottom – Turkmenistan (173rd), North Korea (174th) and Eritrea (175th) – where the media are so suppressed they are non-existent.”

The U.S. moved from being #36 in the rankings in 2008 to a new spot at #20 – largely due to Obama’s presidency and his “less hawkish” approach to foreign policy and the media. Still, the report warns, the U.S.’s actions towards journalists in Iran and Afghanistan is still a matter to be concerned about – the U.S. military has injured or arrested several journalists in those countries.

Written by Brianna Lee