Media Freedom Essay Example

Freedom Of The Press Essay

Freedom of the Press

Although a cherished right of the people, freedom of the press is different from other liberties of the people in that it is both individual and institutional. It applies not just to a single person's right to publish ideas, but also to the right of print and broadcast media to express political views and to cover and publish news. A free press is, therefore, one of the foundations of a democratic society, and as Walter Lippmann, the 20th-century American columnist, wrote, "A free press is not a privilege, but an organic necessity in a great society." Indeed, as society has grown increasingly complex, people rely more and more on newspapers, radio, and television to keep abreast with world news, opinion, and political ideas. One sign of the importance of a free press is that when antidemocratic forces take over a country, their first act is often to muzzle the press.

Thomas Jefferson, on the necessity of a free press (1787)

The basis of our government being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.

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The origins of freedom of speech and press are nearly alike, because critical utterances about the government, either written or spoken, were subject to punishment under English law. It did not matter whether what had been printed was true; government saw the very fact of the criticism as an evil, since it cast doubt on the integrity and reliability of public officers. Progress toward a truly free press, that is, one in which people could publish their views without fear of government reprisal, was halting, and in the mid-18th century the great English legal commentator, Sir William Blackstone, declared that although liberty of the press was essential to the nature of a free state, it could and should be bounded.

Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765)

Where blasphemous, immoral, treasonable, schismatical, seditious, or scandalous libels are punished by English lawthe liberty of the press, properly understood, is by no means infringed or violated. The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publication, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this is to destroy the freedom of the press: but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous, or illegal, he must take the consequences of his own temerity.

But what constituted "blasphemous, immoral, treasonable, schismatic, seditious or scandalous libels"? They were, in fact, whatever the government defined them to be, and in essence, any publication even mildly critical of government...

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Essay on Freedom of the Press

The Consitution has granted rights for Freedom of the Press, but has the press been given too much freedom? The press is given the rights to do many things in order to get the information that they need. Sometimes in order to get what they need, they invade peoples' lives, but what happens to people's right of privacy? Where is the line drawn between what's private and what's not?

It is important that we are informed about what's going on and what people are doing, but many times the press can get a little too infomative and also stretch the truth.

There is always something going on everday and the press is always there to get the story. In the process of getting their story the press has to overcome many obstacles, and crossing that line of privacy is one of them.


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If you look back on some of those times when the press crossed the line of privacy, you will see that the turn out has not been very good. Shuch as the tragic story of Princess Diana. She and her date Dodi Al Fayed were having dinner at his hotel while the paparazzi were trying to get pictures. When they left to go home the paparazzi followed them. In the act of trying to get away from the paparazzi, the car crashed leading to the death of Princess Diana and Dodi Al Fayed. Can the paparazzi be the blame or was it the alcohol that took control of the driver, Paul? Many people blame the accident on the driver, but then again he was only trying to get away from the paparazzi.

Though the press do cross the line between what's private and what's not, they are an important part of our everyday lives. Without the press we wouldn't be able to know about a lot of things that are happening and have happened in the world. They are the ones that bring us vital information that we need to know about each day in our lives. For example, it it wasn't for the press we wouldn't know about what was happening with the weather. Like the case of El Nino, in 1981 and 1982. The people were not informed and so they weren't prepared and that caused flooding and a lot of damage. The press informs us about bad weather so that we can prepare and be ready for it.

Freedom of the Press is also a source of entertainment. They tell us about many special events that are happening locally and around the world. We hear interesting gossip about many of our favorite celebrites and the press gives people something to talk about. For instance, if your favorite celebrity was Jonathan Taylor Thomas, you would be able to find out interesting things about him, that you would never know if it wasn't for the press. Like his birthday, his favorite food, favorite color, hobbies, and if he had a girlfriend. You also get to hear about bad and illeagal things that idols do, which lets you know what kind of person you are really idolizing. Such as Michael Jackson, many people looked up to him and idolized him, especially little kids, but when he was accused of molesting a littly boy, we heard about it and many people saw Michael in a different way.

We get news from all over the world, which brings new experiences to us, about how different cultures do things.

Many individuals are also brought into our lives through the press. We get to experience many different emotions with the people we see or hear about in the news. One case of this would be the Oklahoma bombing. The victims of this incident and their families were brought into the lives of people from all over. We got to feel the heartache and experience the tears, along with the people who knew the victims or were victims in this bombing. All due to the work of the press. It is also because of the press that when victims in a disaster has lost all their belongings, they get aid from other people. For instance, Hurricane Pauline, in Acapulco, Mexico, wiped out many of the peoples' homes and they lost everything. The press let us know what the situation was and they informed us on what we could do to help the victims out, by telling us where we could go to drop off clothes, food, and/or money.

The press can have a very negative effect on a person's career, but then again they can also have a positive effect on it also. They make a person who was never known to anyone, known to everyone in just a second. If that person did something heroic, the press could put them down in history as being someone great. Of course not every heroic act is committed by a person. Like with the fire in Florida, a homeless cat went back into a burning building to save her kittens from the fire. The press put this story out and now many people know about this heroic cat.

The press is very important and they do provide us with a lot of positive information, but sometimes we get very negative things from the press. Not all press is good and totally honest. Sometimes stories, even the positive ones, are a little stretched from the truth. Instead of getting the facts of a story we could be given opinions from the writer. Or we could even be given totally false information just because they wanted to make news. For example, the tabloids put out crazy stories of made up things just to get people interested enough to buy their paper. Such as the pictures of Michael Jackson's baby, the tabloids showed pictures of a baby, claiming that it was Michaels's baby. When in fact, it was not even his.

The press also gets too involved in people's public and private lives. Though, people do have the right of privacy, the press has ways to get around it with their right of freedom and their freedom of technology usage. Of course a person could always get a restraining order, but that's really no good because the press doesn't even have to be on that person's property or even near that person to get pictures. They could be a hundred feet away and still they could use their high tech equipment to get what they want without it being illegal.

Many offenses have been taken by people because of the stories and pictures they get from the press and because of the press interfering into many people's lives. There have been so many cases that have been brought up against the press for invading the privacy of others. Alec Baldwin, Michael Jackson, and Carol Brunette are all people that have brought up civil suits against the press. In on circumstance, a photographer was punched by Alec Baldwin when he was trying to take a picture of Alec's baby.

The press also gets too involved in criminal or civil activities. Of course, it is important for us to know about the crimes that are committed and who committed them. The press informs us about these criminals and they are part of the reason that we look at criminals the way we do. We read in the papers or hear in the news about criminals everyday. What the press tells us is how we get our opinions of that person as acriminal. After a person has paid for their crime they sohoud be able to start over, but the press is a big part as to why criminals don't get much of a second chance. For instance, if a person has just been released from serving their sentence the press will inform everyone that a criminal has just been let out.

Society will read the stories and will not give that person a second chance because the press didn't give that person a second chance. Although, if the press would have said that the person has served their time and changed their ways, society would look at that person in a different way. In doing this instead of saying a criminal was released they are helping that person out in life rather than giving them a lot of trouble.

So, where is the line drawn between what's private and what's not? Does the press even acknowledge such a line? The press is an important assest in our lives but not everything they do is totally necessary. Though they do have the right for Freedom of the Press, we as people are also entitled to our right of privacy. It was a while back when the Bill of Rights were created and when the Freedom of the Press was thought up. They probably didn't think that it would conflict with the right to privacy. Since, now it is plain to see they do conflict, shouldn't it be changed to Limited Freedom of the Press?

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