This map from Washington, D.C.'s Newseum shows which countries have a free press (green), which are semi-free (yellow) and which are not free (red).
The answer to my initial question is not what I thought it would be. It’s Norway, the world-leader in free expression.
Where is the least freedom of the press? An easy answer: North Korea, where all media outlets are run by the state. Journalists there essentially serve as mouthpieces for the ruling Workers’ Party. North Koreans caught listening to foreign news broadcasts risk harsh punishments, including forced labor and even execution.
Here in the United States, we have the First Amendment, which is oh-so-powerful. Even with that, Paris-based Reporters Without Borders only ranks the U.S. 41st.
The 45 words of freedom:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
I’m always in awe when I see these words in larger-than-life settings, like on the massive sign outside at the Newseum, or the giant etching at the First Amendment Plaza outside the Communications building at Northern Arizona University.
It’s always a good refresher to read the words and reflect on the fact that freedom isn’t free.