Reporters Without Borders has named "crackdown" the word of 2011, when journalists covering protests sweeping the world were tested as never before.
The Paris-based media freedom group said that the wave of uprisings in the Middle East, the Occupy movement in the West and continued protests in China gave journalists an unprecedented role in advancing democracy. But they also were often targeted by governments trying to quash dissent.
The heightened unrest resulted in a significant shake-up of the group's annual Press Freedom Index, released Wednesday. The United States, for instance, fell 27 places because of arrests of journalists during Occupy Wall Street protests.
Tunisia, meanwhile, rose 30 places in the wake of its successful revolution, though its rank remains low.