India moved up one place and neighbouring Pakistan went down seven places among 168 nations in the Press Freedom Index complied by global media watchdog Reporters Without Borders.
The overall picture of South Asian countries was dismal and in all countries, except Bhutan, journalists enjoy much less freedom now compared with 2002.
Though India moved up to 105th position from 106th last year, the press freedom was nowhere near the level of 2002 when it was placed 80th among 168 countries ranked.
Pakistan's record of press freedom was poor right from the day the reporters' body began rating the countries. It was placed 157 this year down from 150 last year and 119 in 2002.
The US slipped nine places compared with last year to 53rd position, much lower than its inaugural index rating of 17th that implies it has lost 36 places in last five years.
Tied for the first place, indicating maximum press freedom are Finland, Iceland, Ireland and Netherlands.
The worst offenders are North Korea, Turkmenistan and Eritrea occupying 168, 167 and 166 places respectively.
Among the South Asia countries, journalists enjoy most freedom in Bhutan, which went up the index to 98 from 148 last year and 135 in 2002.
Nepal is the least free country so far as reporters are concerned even though its rating went up by one point to 159 from 160 last year. But it was down from 127 in 2002.
Bangladesh has come up the index to 137 from 151 last year but is down from 118 in 2002.
Sri Lanka was placed at 141st position compared with 115 last year.
But the index shows that conditions of reporters have worsened rapidly during the last five years in the conflict-ridden country when it occupied 51st position.
Maldives finds itself at 144 compared with 148 last year. It was not ranked in 2002.