“To think is sacred; let every person think freely! To express what you think is sacred; let every person express his thought freely! If you do this, you prove that you are a conscientious and a moral human being! If you don’t do this, you just declare yourself being fascist!” Mehmet Murat Ildan (QUOTEFANCY, 2022).
In December 1942, President Robert M. Hutchins of the University of Chicago selected a dozen scholars under the guidance of Henry R. Luce of Time to form an inquiry into the freedom of the press: both its present state and prospects (Lyons, 1999). This was the first time the performance of the press was being reviewed by a highly competent, independent body with adequate resources.
The results of the study came out with a warning that, only a responsible press can remain free: separate from government and business and other institutional interests. Failure of the press to meet the needs of a society dependent on it for information and ideas is the greatest danger to its freedom.
Freedom of the press is important for keeping people informed. The media plays an important role in the building of public opinion and views of millions on various topics of regional, national and international agenda and bringing into light the hidden injustices. A free press has a huge responsibility of reporting the truth and shaping people’s opinions. Responsible journalism must be practiced to stop people from spreading hate and maintaining the harmony of a country.
The democratic integrity of a country is judged by the freedom that the media enjoys in that country. Press freedom is the cornerstone of democratic societies, all nations are strengthened by information, debate, and the exchange of opinions. Freedom of the press is construed as an absence of interference by outside entities, such as a government or religious organization, rather than as a right for authors to have their works published by other people. Even a dictator cannot neglect the power press has since every political ideology demands propaganda and publicity which only the press can provide.
The freedom of the press remains so crucial to preserving our system of governance because the press acts as a fundamental check upon society and government. As Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Freedom of conscience, of education, or speech, of assembly are among the very fundamentals of democracy and all of them would be nullified should freedom of the press ever be successfully challenged. (Young, 2018)” Our founding fathers accorded freedom of the press such a prominent placement in our Constitution because it represented the inherent values and liberties that the United States was founded on.
A free press fights for the truth; there are many issues that journalists are trained to analyze and explain. Without newspapers, radio shows, blogs, etc, the average person would have little to no knowledge of what’s going on around them. Ordinary citizens often lack the time and expertise to research and investigate issues that may affect them. Armed with skills like research and critical thinking, the best journalists know what questions to ask, what leads to pursue, and how to fact-check to give accurate, credible, and relatable information to the public (Soken-Huberty, 2022).
One of the free press’ main missions is serving as a watchdog on power. Many entities can benefit from the truth staying hidden, including governments, so the press serves as the bridge between the people and powerful entities. Without freedom of the press, journalists who try to tell the truth when it threatens the state are not protected by the law.
A free press informs voters and strengthens democracy. It seeks out and circulates news, information, ideas, comment, and opinion and holds those in authority to account. Being informed ensures people understand the issues at hand and what policies and politicians best represent them. The press is the body that informs by analyzing information, encouraging discussion, and fact-checking. It would be very difficult and time-consuming for voters to do all their work on their own. A strong media makes the process less complicated and offers valuable insight.
The press is sometimes called the fourth estate. It suggests an important, coherent, and independent force in society. The press does not share the same aims as government, the legislature, the executive, religion, or commerce. It is or should be, an outsider (Rusbridger, 2011).
The press, when it does what it should, speaks the truth to power. It is a check on corruption, excesses, and stupidity in government and in business.
ReferencesLyons, L. m. (1999, December 15). 1947: A Free and Responsible Press. Retrieved from Nieman Reports: https://niemanreports.org/articles/1947-a-free-and-responsible-press/
QUOTEFANCY. (2022). Mehmet Murat ildan Quotes. Retrieved from QUOTE FANCY: https://quotefancy.com/mehmet-murat-ildan-quotes
Rusbridger, A. (2011, October 6). The importance of a free press. Retrieved from The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2011/oct/06/importance-free-press-alan-rusbridger
Soken-Huberty, E. (2022). https://www.humanrightscareers.com/issues/why-is-freedom-of-the-press-important-in-a-democracy/. Retrieved from Human Rights Careers: https://www.humanrightscareers.com/issues/why-is-freedom-of-the-press-important-in-a-democracy/
Young, H. (2018, March 16). The value of freedom of press. Retrieved from NEWS PRESS : https://www.news-press.com/story/opinion/contributors/2018/03/16/high-school-essay-winner-value-freedom-press/400711002/
Sarah Hobson, Ph.D. specializes in supporting teams, departments and schools, businesses, and government agencies in building inclusive innovative change-making communities who understand how to connect well with and join diverse populations in providing needed sustainable resources for all youth and families.