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Public Support of Freedom of the Press

Freedom of the press is an integral part of the First Amendment to the Unites States Constitution. Free press is the only way that atrocities against humanity can be voiced, heard and addressed. For centuries, governments have manipulated the truth to suit their wants and needs, and their wants and needs only. Although times, values and beliefs have changed, the manipulation of truth has not. The presence of free press acts as a watchdog for governments, institutions and people of power. Without free press, the oppression of rights by the Taliban and other such regimes would go past unheard by an otherwise deaf society. Without free press, the crimes committed by the Chinese government and other such governments would go past unseen by an otherwise blind society. Without free press, the destruction of indigenous cultures around the world would go past unknown by an otherwise prejudiced society. Without free press, people would not have found out about the Watergate scandal. Without free press, Americans would not have uncovered the truth about what happened to Pat Tillman in Afghanistan. Today in 21st Century society, the media is a watchdog that serves as a critic for atrocities against individuals, civilizations and humanity. To those individuals presiding in developed, privileged and wealthy countries, access to information and "free" press is quite simply, at the tip of their fingertips. Information can be acquired from a variety of television networks, newspapers, magazines, websites, programs and publications. Yet access to this information is available to only those fortunate enough to afford them. The majority of today's "civilized" and modernized society presides under the thrall of tyranny, whereby which, only officially approved information appears in the media. There are those individuals in less

developed and privileged countries who continue to suffer under a barrage of lies, inevitably to die from hunger or thirst for a word of truth. Freedom of the press is a necessity to a Democratic government. The fundamental benefit of free press is that it enables individuals to discern for themselves what the "truth" is, after receiving reports about what is happening in their country, in the world and in society as a whole. Without free press, people wouldnt be able to decipher the truth from fiction. Without free press, those who have power would be able to control and manipulate what gets reported and published. One of the traits of Totalitarianism is when those who are in control manipulate the truth or manifest fictitious stories for the masses to read. However, inaccurate news reports can occur without involving Totalitarianism and the abuse of power; sometimes people just get the facts wrong. I found that that the State of the First Amendment poll of 2004 did not support the claim that the public does not support the freedom of the press. As a matter of fact I found that it proved that public support of freedom of the press is alive and strong. The poll data clearly shows that the majority of Americans still support the freedom of the press. However the polls in the 2004 Freedom Forum did show that more and more people are skeptical of the press and are concerned about falsified information. More than half (52%) of those surveyed said theyve heard or read about reports concerning the falsifying of facts and columns in newspapers. Of that number, three in ten said those incidents have decreased the level of trust they maintain in their local newspapers. As for the population as a whole. 59% of those surveyed indicated that the falsifying or making up of stories in the American news media is now a widespread problem. (Alexander, Hanson, 237) Only one poll showed less support for freedom of the press. Nearly half of those surveyed (49%) said the media have too much freedom to publish whatever they

want; 15 points greater than the percentage (34%) that indicated there is too much government censorship. Republicans (64%) are far more likely than Democrats (43%) and Independents (43%) to indicate the media has too much freedom to publish. (Alexander and Hanson, 235) What these polls tell me is that uneducated people and people who are uptight are against freedom of the press. I find this attitude against freedom of the press sickening considering it is one of the foundations of our country and is a necessity in the preservation of liberty and freedom. Benjamin Franklin once said, Those who give up essential liberty for a little safety deserve neither. (Maciewjewski and Ozar, 215)

Works Cited

Alexander, Alison and Jarice Hanson. Taking Sides Clashing Views in Mass Media and Society. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2009. First Amendment Center. State of the First Amendment 2004. Freedom Forum. 2004 Maciejewski, Jeffrey and David Ozar. Natural Law and the Right to Know in a Democracy. Journal of Mass Media Ethics 21.1 (2006)