Freedom of the press is defined as the right to publish newspapers, magazines, and other printed matter without governmental restriction and subject only to the laws of libel, obscenity, sedition, etc. It is a right protected under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Ratified in 1791 as part of the Bill of Rights, the Amendment prohibits Congress from interfering with freedom of religion, speech, assembly, or petition.
This was written at a time when the printed word was how information was shared. There were no radio or TV stations. There was certainly no Internet. The founding fathers couldn’t have imagined what the press would look like some 200+ years later. But one thing they did know, the press had to be free from governmental restriction and that right was to be protected.
I’m a big believer in the freedom of the press. But I also believe there is a responsibility that comes along with the freedom. To be fair, accurate, objective in your reporting. Gather information from multiple sources and verify its truthfulness. Be ethical.
We may have taken for granted that all newspapers, television and radio station news reporters were fair and balanced. Of course, we know now is certainly not true. But perhaps the reason fake news sites and subjective news reporting have been able to prosper is a direct result of the rights protected under the First Amendment. Because the press is free to do what it likes without government restriction.
Until now. If recent reports are any indication, President-Elect Trump plans to severely restrict press freedoms. There are at least 15 journalistic organizations, including the Society of Professional Journalists, which we are a member of, that signed a letter to Mr. Trump asking him to preserve the long-standing tradition of the presidential press corps. It was sent to him on Nov. 16, about two months before takes office.
Our constitution protects it, the American people deserve it.