Score: 71.22 // Status: Satisfactory

45 – United States of America

After a sharp increase in 2020, freedom of the press violations has declined considerably in the United States, but significant structural obstacles remain in this country that was once considered a model of free speech.

Although major American media outlets generally operate free of any government interference, many of these outlets are owned by a small set of wealthy individuals.

In a diverse global media landscape, local press has declined significantly in recent years. A growing interest in partisan media threatens their objectivity, while public trust in the press has fallen alarmingly.

After four years of constant vilification of the press by President Trump, his successor, Joe Biden, has expressed a desire to see the United States regain its status as a model of freedom of expression, a desire that has materialized in the resumption of regular press conferences from the White House and the federal agency. Despite these efforts, many of the underlying and recurring problems affecting journalists continue to be ignored by authorities, such as the disappearance of local information, the polarization of the media or the weakening of journalism and democracy caused by digital platforms and social networks.

There is an ongoing debate about reforming Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which exempts companies that own social networks and other internet hosting companies from liability for content published by third parties on their platforms. There is growing pressure for a review of the landmark Sullivan v. New York Times, which largely protects media outlets from libel suits. The Press Act, a federal law designed to protect journalists and their sources, was rejected by a narrow margin in 2022. The United States government continues to seek the extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange so that he can face justice for publication of confidential documents released in 2010. Assange remains in pre-trial detention in the United Kingdom, a situation that impacts the balance of both countries in terms of freedom of the press. More than a dozen states and communities across the country have proposed or enacted laws to limit journalists' access to public spaces, most notably prohibiting them from accessing legislative meetings and from recording police.

Economic restrictions have drastically affected journalists working in the United States, where more than 360 newspapers have disappeared since 2019 and where the largest newspapers continue to lose subscribers. Although some public bodies, especially radio, have been able to offset this decline thanks to online subscription models, others have opted for growth through a system of individual donations. Due to an unpredictable economy resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic and the sharp reduction in advertising revenue, several major media outlets – especially CNN, NBC, Buzzfeed, Vox and the Washington Post – announced waves of layoffs in 2022 and 2023. These economic conditions They have particularly affected smaller and local media, whose survival is increasingly threatened.

According to recent studies, the American media is subject to unprecedented distrust. The misinformation affecting American society has created a climate in which citizens no longer know who to trust. Online harassment, especially against women and minorities, is also a real problem for journalists and can affect their quality of life and safety.

In recent years, American journalists have had to work in dangerous conditions and have faced an atmosphere of unprecedented animosity and aggression during demonstrations, when reporters clearly identified as such have been deliberately physically attacked. A worrying pattern of harassment, intimidation and attacks on journalists in the field can be observed.