Reporters Without Borders just released its 2009 Press Freedom Index, a ranking of countries based on how shamelessly they screw with the Fourth Estate.
Obama has had a positive effect: America leapt up 20 places to number 20. Italy, Spain, and France are all in the 40s and each slipped a few places. Israel sank 47 places and, for the first time, lost its lead among Middle Eastern countries thanks to its crack down on the media last winter. Iran is now down in North Korea territory. And the Scandinavian countries lead the pack.
I could think of a reason why Italy lost position.