Paris-based media watchdog laments global decline in press freedoms; cites falls in US, Russia

Reporters Without Borders says Russia, the United States, Japan and many parts of Europe lost ground last year in its barometer and ranking of global press freedoms.

The Paris-based media watchdog said two-thirds of the 180 countries in its World Press Freedom index fared worse than in 2014. It cited a context of war, the rise of non-state groups and economic crisis.

Western Europe, while top-ranked, lost the most ground as a region. Russia slipped two slots to 152nd place amid "draconian laws" and a squeeze on independent media. RSF said the U.S. fell three places to 49th amid a "war on information" by the Obama administration in some cases.

China, Iran and North Korea were among the 10 lowest-ranked countries.

RSF uses seven criteria to calculate its index.