In this annual index, Freedom House ranks 195 countries and territories based on the situation of press freedom. Global declines in press freedom continued in 2008, with negative trends outweighing positive movements in every region, particularly in the former Soviet Union and the Middle East and North Africa. This marked the seventh straight year of overall deterioration. Improvements in a small number of countries—including bright spots in parts of South Asia and Africa—were overshadowed by a continued, relentless assault on independent news media by a wide range of actors, in both authoritarian states and countries with very open media environments. Press freedom in Iran remained tightly restricted, despite the hope offered by the internet and other forms of new media.