United States
Index 2024
55/ 180
Score : 66.59
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator
Index 2023
45/ 180
Score : 71.22
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator

After a sharp increase in 2020, freedom of the press violations have fallen significantly in the United States, but major structural barriers to press freedom persist in this country, once considered a model for freedom of expression.

Media landscape

While the mainstream media in the United States generally operates free from government interference, media ownership is highly concentrated, and many of the companies buying American media outlets appear to prioritize profits over public interest journalism. In a diverse global media landscape, local news has declined significantly in recent years. A growing interest in partisan media threatens objectivity, while public confidence in the media has fallen dangerously.

Political context

After four years of President Donald Trump’s constant denigration of the press, his successor, President Joe Biden, declared that “journalism is not a crime.” Despite this rhetoric, many of the chronic, underlying issues affecting journalists remain unaddressed, and Biden himself has come under criticism for failing to press US partners like Israel and Saudi Arabia on press freedom.

Legal framework

There is a growing push to revisit the landmark New York Times Co. v Sullivan decision, which largely shields the media from defamation lawsuits. The PRESS Act, a federal shield law aimed at protecting journalists and their sources, narrowly defeated in 2022, is still under consideration in the Senate. The US government continues to pursue the extradition of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, who remains in detention in the United Kingdom, to face justice on charges related to the publication of classified documents in 2010. More than a dozen states and communities have proposed or enacted laws to limit journalists’ access to public spaces, including barring them from legislative meetings and preventing them from recording the police. 

Economic context

Economic constraints have a considerable impact on journalists. Roughly one third of the American newspapers operating in 2005 have now shuttered. While some public media outlets, and radio stations in particular, have been able to offset this decline thanks to online subscription models, others have found ways to sustain growth through individual donations. Massive waves of layoffs swept the US media throughout 2023 and have continued into 2024, affecting both local newsrooms and major legacy outlets like the Washington Post, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, NBC News, Vice Media and Vox. Over 3,000 jobs were lost in the news industry in 2023, the highest rate since 2020 when over 16,000 jobs were cut.

Sociocultural context

According to recent studies, the level of distrust in the American media is unprecedented. The disinformation affecting American society has created an atmosphere where citizens no longer know who to trust. Online harassment, particularly towards women and minorities, is also a serious issue for journalists and can impact their quality of life and safety. 


There is a troubling pattern of harassment, intimidation and assault on journalists in the field. In September 2022, Las Vegas Review-Journal reporter Jeff German was stabbed to death by a politician he was investigating. Dylan Lyons, a reporter for Spectrum News 13 in Orlando, Florida, was himself shot while covering a shooting in February 2023. When covering demonstrations, journalists are sometimes attacked and physically assaulted by demonstrators. Several reporters have also been arrested while covering such events.