We see the pressure that journalism and the media are under from governments around the world when journalists are jailed in countries like Egypt, or murdered, or silenced in various other ways. But it’s not until we get a global picture from something like the annual World Press Freedom Index that it becomes obvious how endangered a free press has become — even in the United States, which has fallen steadily in the media-freedom rankings every year.
If nothing else, this kind of overview reinforces one thing: Namely, the necessity and importance of having alternative forms of media and speech, whether it’s Twitter and YouTube and Instagram or a media entity like WikiLeaks. These can be blocked and content can be banned by governments, but it is harder to do. In effect, it forces repressive governments to play a giant game of Whack-A-Mole by going after every individual user who posts a photo or uploads a video.