Journalists in many parts of the world face deteriorating reporting conditions, with a democracy watchdog group noting a sharp decline in global press freedom in 2014.
In its annual report released Wednesday, the Freedom House group said the United States’ score fell by one point, to 22, due to detentions, harassment, and rough treatment of journalists by police during protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
"Meanwhile," the group added, "press freedom advocates remained concerned about certain practices and policies of the federal government, including the Obama administration’s relatively rigid controls on the information coming out of the White House and government agencies.
"Although the U.S. Justice Department said in December that it would no longer seek to compel New York Times journalist James Risen to reveal a source in a long-running case, the Obama administration has used the 1917 Espionage Act to prosecute alleged leaks of classified information eight times, more than all previous administrations combined," the report said.
It added that revelations of surveillance that included the bulk collection of communications data by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the targeted wiretapping of media outlets continued to reverberate in 2014, as fears of monitoring and the aggressive prosecution of alleged leakers made journalists’ interactions with administration officials and potential sources more difficult.