Is Freedom Free or Free by Chance

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"We don’t have to earn the right to pray. Or assemble. Or speak out. Or petition
the government for change. And news organizations don’t have to earn the right to exercise their free-press rights" (Haiman 71).

After reading the final few pages of Haiman's book, I thought about how the newspaper industry has a right that they didn't even have to pay for. While, I mean the news reporters, but history has shown how much people have paid for freedom. It is a wonderful opportunity that we have as Americans, but do some people take advantage of the freedoms that we have?

If you want to go to church, then you can freely go.

If you want to hold a group meeting, then you can freely do so.

If you want to have your voice heard, then you can freely say so.

If you want to protest, then you can do so as long as you don't distribute police order.

Finally, if a news reporter wants to publish an article, then they can do so without a charge.

All of these rights are given to us, as Americans, but it seems that many people hold the freedom of press to a high position when they get into trouble after publishing an inappropriate article. Where is the line drawn with the freedom of press or speech? This also goes for the other freedoms, too.

If you start a news paper company, then you are automatically given, previously had, the right of the press. What if you abuse the right and take it to far lengths in order to convey a person’s opinion?

There are so many questions that a reader so understand when studying the news industry and I believe that the press has done a remarkable job in delivering the news each day in such a quick time period also.

So, in addition to my other questions, is the news fair with their "freedom(s)"?

Click here for the course web page devoted to Haiman.

6 Comments

Well, reporters and newspapers can and do face repercussions for things they print. Haiman highlights a few of them, “Libel, obscenity and criminal acts committed in the act of news gathering are among punishable acts.” The best way to prevent getting in trouble and not abusing “the freedom of the press,” is to only report things which are true and are confirmed by various sources. However, sometimes these things are hard to prove in a court of law. The more important thing is the power of the public. If the news media is not fair, the public will pick up on it and lose faith in them. And the news media needs to sell to consumers (the public) and when these consumers don’t trust them and stop buying, there will be serious effects for them, so they are held accountable.

I agree that newspapers don't necessarily "pay" for their freedom, but I still think there are less formal ways in which the press is kept in check. In the end, newspapers are at the mercy of their readership and whether or not readers think they have been fair. If they don't, they will go to another newspaper to get their information. Because the Internet has so radically changed the landscape of how people get information, newspapers have to compete more than they ever did before. Especially for news on the national or international level, there are thousands and thousands of sources to go to on the Internet. Some of these are reputable and some not as reputable; how reputable a source is considered to be is controlled entirly by Internet users. As Dr. Jerz explained to us in class, the more an article is linked to, the higher up Google places it in a search list. In this incredibly democratic process, journalists have to be extra careful to make sure their articles are as accurate and fair as possible to ensure they attract readers. So in a way, journalists do have to "pay" for their freedom--they may not get in legal trouble, but they will lose readers when they publish information that's inaccurate or unfair.

Your entry was in part the motivation behind my own, Derek. Human error is impossible to escape, and err in judgment seems to be the biggest mistake in journalism. Public pressure to be fair is heavy on news writers, enough to make them act appropriately the majority of the time. Misjudgment seems to be the culprit more often than malice or poor ethics. And that reasoning makes sense when we consider the emphasis that has been placed on “fairness” throughout the course.

Look at the conversation you started, Derek! By the way, I like the new layout. I have to agree with Matt on this one, the press does pay for it's freedom with good reporting. Even people who aren't in newswriting can tell if an article is good because it is interesting and offers the right information. If I were writing an article about unicorns, claiming that they are real, I better have darn good support to back up my claim. I can't just say, "It's like Santa Claus; you just have to believe." Instead, I could get a quote from leading mammologist, Michael Smith, about recently found fossil evidence in Antarctica, proving their existance. People would believe me then. Heck, I even bet my article would be popular because let's face it, it would be awesome if unicorns really existed.

Greta also brings up a good point. The press does have limits. You can't just make up a blatant lie to try to ruin someone's reputation. In fact, you can't even quote someone who makes a lie up about someone else. Instead you need to check and double check the information to make sure it's correct. If it's wrong, you could be sued.

Thanks, Angela!! :)I like how we have, through conversation, referred to freedom with good reporting. As you say, reporters need to have quotes from good newsworthy sources. It takes, as we all know, a lot of work to get quotes in a short period of time and write an article. If a news reporter writes lies in an article, then their career can be in jeopardy. There are so many laws, rights, and standards that news reporters need to follow and this makes brings them freedom in the press.

I forgot to mention here and in my own blog that it was because of these laws that do put limitations on journalism that I thought that the statistic saying “In a 1999 survey sponsored by the First Amendment Center, 53% of Americans said they believed the press has too much freedom” (72) was ridiculous. Are they not aware of these limitations? Why would a person suggest we should have less freedom, the same freedom that so many have fought so hard to preserve?
To see more, look at my blog http://blogs.setonhill.edu/AngelaPalumbo/2009/11/too_much_freedom.html

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Derek Tickle published on November 17, 2009 5:38 PM.

Color, Caption, and Conception was the previous entry in this blog.

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