No wonder we plunged to 46th place on press freedoms...
Listen to this On The Media story or this article for details, but basically Reporters Without Borders changes its methodology every year, and the rankings are largely based on the perceptions of reporters within the respective countries, which is far from an objective measure. So as WP article states,
Most of the coverage is based on the premise that 2013 saw a sudden, alarming and perhaps unprecedented decline in media press freedom because the ranking dropped from the previous year. This is just bad data journalism for big two reasons. First, it confuses relative rankings with absolute scores – more on this later. Second, it ignores the fact that Reporters Without Borders has been raising and dropping the U.S. ranking for years.
I actually largely agree with your more abstract points, but it's worth pointing out that the entire press freedom ranking you cite is at best fairly misleading, and arguably entirely worthless. As the author of the article points out when interviewed on On The Media, Reporters Without Borders does some excellent work compiling statistics and incidents of press freedoms being impinged upon around the world. But their ranking system is best ignored.