Freedom Of Press
Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through mediums including various electronic media and published materials. While such freedom mostly implies the absence of interference from an overreaching state, its preservation may be sought through constitutional or other legal protections.
With respect to governmental information, any government may distinguish which materials are public or protected from disclosure to the public based on classification of information as sensitive, classified or secret and being otherwise protected from disclosure due to relevance of the information to protecting the national interest. Many governments are also subject to sunshine laws or freedom of information legislation which are both used to define the extent of national interest.
Freedom Of Press Essay Example
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers” This philosophy is usually accompanied by legislation ensuring various degrees of freedom of scientific research (known as scientific freedom), publishing, press and printing the depth to which these laws are entrenched in a country’s legal system can go as far down as its constitution.
The concept of freedom of speech is often covered by the same laws as freedom of the press, thereby giving equal treatment to spoken and published expression. Beyond legal definitions, several non-governmental organizations use other criteria to judge the level of press freedom around the world. Some of those organizations include the following: Reporters Without Borders The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) Freedom House Many of the traditional means of delivering information are being slowly superseded by the increasing pace of modern technological advance.
Almost every conventional mode of media and information dissemination has a modern counterpart that offers significant potential advantages to journalists seeking to maintain and enhance their freedom of speech. A few simple examples of such Satellite television Web-based publishing (e. g. , blogging) Voice over Internet protocol (VOIP) Every year, Reporters Without Borders establishes a ranking of countries in terms of their freedom of the press.
The Freedom of the Press index, an annual survey of media independence in 197 countries and territories, is based on responses to surveys sent to journalists that are members of partner organizations of the RWB, as well as related specialists such as researchers, jurists and human rights activists. The survey asks questions about direct attacks on journalists and the media as well as other indirect sources of pressure against the free press, such as non-governmental groups.
The annual index contains the most comprehensive data set available on global media freedom and is a key resource for scholars, policymakers, international institutions, media, and activists. The index assesses the degree of print, broadcast, and internet freedom in every country in the world, analyzing the events of each calendar year. It provides numerical rankings and rates each country’s media as “Free,” “Partly Free,” or “Not Free.
” Country narratives examine the legal environment for the media, political pressures that influence reporting, and economic factors that affect access to information As of 2013, the United States is ranked 32nd in the Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index. There was a fall from 20th in 2010 to 42nd in 2012, which was attributed to arrests of journalists covering the Occupy movement. In 2011–2012, the countries where press was the most free were Finland, Norway and Germany, followed by Estonia, Netherlands, Austria, Iceland, and Luxembourg.
The country with the least degree of press freedom was Eritrea, followed by North Korea, Turkmenistan, Syria, Iran, and China. Freedom of the press in the United States is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, says that “Congress shall make no law…. abridging (limiting) the freedom of speech, or of the press… ” Freedom of speech is the liberty to speak openly without fear of government restraint.
It is closely linked to freedom of the press because this freedom includes both the right to speak and the right to be heard. In the United States, both the freedom of speech and freedom of press are commonly called freedom of expression. This clause is generally understood as prohibiting the government from interfering with the printing and distribution of information or opinions, although freedom of the press, like freedom of speech, is subject to some restrictions, such as defamation law and copyright law. The Constitution’s framers provided the press with broad freedom.
This freedom was considered necessary to the establishment of a strong, independent press sometimes called “the fourth branch” of the government. An independent press can provide citizens with a variety of information and opinions on matters of public importance. However, freedom of press sometimes collides with other rights, such as a defendant’s right to a fair trial or a citizen’s right to privacy. In recent years, there has been increasing concern about extremely aggressive journalism, including stories about people’s sexual lives and photographs of people when they were in a private setting.
The framers’ conception of freedom of the press has been the subject of intense historical debate, both among scholars and in the pages of judicial opinions. At the very least, those who drafted and ratified the Bill of Rights purported to embrace the notion, derived from William Blackstone, that a free press may not be licensed by the sovereign, or otherwise restrained in advance of publication. And, although the subject remains a lively topic of academic debate, the Supreme Court itself reviewed the historical record in 1964 in New York Times Co.
v. Sullivan and concluded that the central meaning of the First Amendment embraces as well a rejection of the law of seditious libel i. e. , the power of the sovereign to impose subsequent punishments, from imprisonment to criminal fines to civil damages, on those who criticize the state and its officials. To a great extent, however, what we mean by freedom of the press today was shaped in an extraordinary era of Supreme Court decision-making that began with Sullivan and concluded in 1991 with Cohen v. Cowles Media Co.
During that remarkable period, the Court ruled in at least 40 cases involving the press and fleshed out the skeleton of freedoms addressed only rarely in prior cases. In contrast, although the Court in the early part of the last century had considered the First Amendment claims of political dissidents with some frequency, it took nearly 150 years after the adoption of the Bill of Rights, and the First Amendment along with it, for the Court to issue its first decision based squarely on the freedom of the press.
Over the course of the quarter-century following Sullivan, the Court made it its business to explore the ramifications of the case on a virtually annual basis. During that period, the Supreme Courts elaboration of what we mean by a free press focused on the nature of the official restraint alleged to compromise that freedom as well as the extent to which the First Amendment protects the press from a given species of governmental action or inaction. Thus, in cases such as Near and the Pentagon Papers case (1971’s New York Times Co.
v. United States), the Court established that freedom of the press from previous restraints on publication is nearly absolute, encompassing the right to publish information that a president concluded would harm the national security, if not the movements of troopships at sea in time of war. In 1974’s Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo, the Court embraced the analogous proposition that the government has virtually no power to compel the press to publish that which it would prefer to leave on the proverbial cutting room floor.
In that regard, however, it must be noted that not all media are created equal when it comes to entitlement to the full protections of the First Amendments press clause. Most significantly, because of a perceived scarcity of the electromagnetic spectrum, the Court has held that Congress and the Federal Communications Commission may regulate the activities of broadcasters operating over public airwaves in a manner that would surely violate the First Amendment if applied to newspapers.
(Compare Red Lion Broadcasting v. FCC (1969) with Tornillo. ) The Courts reasoning in Red Lion, in which it upheld the Commissions Fairness Doctrine and personal attack rule i. e. , the right of a person criticized on a broadcast station to respond to such criticism over the same airwaves licensed to that station has never been disavowed, although the justices have expressly declined to extend it to other, later-developed communications media, including cable television (1994’s Turner Broadcasting v.
FCC) and the Internet (1997’s Reno v. ACLU), to which the scarcity rationale for regulation is plainly inapplicable. Sullivan and cases that followed also hold that the First Amendment protects the publication of false information about matters of public concern in a variety of contexts, although with considerably less vigor than it does dissemination of the truth. Even so, public officials and public figures may not recover
civil damages for injury to their reputations unless they were the victims of a reckless disregard for truth in the dissemination of a calculated falsehood. Indeed, private persons may not collect civil damages for reputational harm caused by falsehoods relating to a matter of public concern unless the publishers conduct violates a fault-based standard of care. And although expressions of opinion are not always immune from legal sanction, in its 1990 decision in Milkovich v. Lorain Journal Co.
, the Court held that statements not capable of being proven false, or which reasonable people would not construe as statements of fact at all, but rather as mere rhetorical hyperbole, are absolutely protected by the First Amendment. Indeed, the Court has rejected arguments advanced by the institutional press that, because of its structural role in ensuring the free flow of information in a democratic society, it ought to enjoy unique protections from otherwise generally applicable laws that inhibit its ability to gather and report the news. Thus, in 1991 in Cohen v.
Cowles Media Co. , the Court effectively concluded the treatise on the freedom of the press it began in Sullivan; it did so when it emphasized that the press is properly subject to liability under the generally applicable law of contracts when it breaks a promise to keep a sources identity confidential, even when it does so in order to report truthful information about the sources involvement in a matter of public concern. In the decade following Cohen, the Court again fell largely silent when it came to the First Amendments application to the institutional press.
As the 21st century dawned, however, the Court interrupted that silence, at least briefly, to revisit the extent to which a generally applicable law such as the federal wiretap statute can constitutionally impose criminal penalties and civil liability on the dissemination by the press of the contents of unlawfully recorded telephone conversations, at least when the information so disseminated is the truth about a matter of public concern. While it is undeniable fact that freedom of press is essential ingredient of democracy, it does not mean it will advance the goals of democracy.
A free press plays a key role in sustaining and monitoring a healthy democracy, as well as in contributing to greater accountability, good government, and economic development. Most importantly, restrictions on media are often an early indicator that governments intend to assault other democratic institutions. According to the Freedom of the Press index, only 14. 5 percent of the world’s citizens live in countries that enjoy a free press. In the rest of the world, governments as well as non-state actors control the viewpoints that reach citizens and brutally repress independent voices who aim to promote accountability, good