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Mon Apr 2, 2018, 04:01 PM

 

Thomas Jefferson on the importance of a free press-

Jefferson’s preference for “newspapers without government” over “government without newspapers” (1787)

Jefferson writes from Paris to Edward Carrington, whom Jefferson sent as a delegate to the Continental Congress from 1786 to 1788, on the importance of a free press to keep government in check. He concludes that if he had to choose between “a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter”:

"The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution. To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty. The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs thro’ the channel of the public papers, & to contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole mass of the people. The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers & be capable of reading them."

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http://oll.libertyfund.org/quote/302

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Reply Thomas Jefferson on the importance of a free press- (Original post)
poboy2 Apr 2018 OP
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Response to poboy2 (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2018, 04:03 PM

1. ...whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government,...

 

"The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them." --Thomas Jefferson to Edward Carrington, 1787. ME 6:57

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https://famguardian.org/Subjects/Politics/ThomasJefferson/jeff1600.htm

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Response to poboy2 (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2018, 04:05 PM

2. liberty of the nation depends on the freedom of the press...

 

In a letter to James Currie in 1786, Jefferson complained that John Jay had been treated unfairly by the “public papers.” However, instead of calling the press the enemy of the people, Jefferson said:

In truth it is afflicting that a man [John Jay] who has past his life in serving the public, who has served them in every the highest stations with universal approbation, and with a purity of conduct which has silenced even party opprobrium, who tho’ poor has never permitted himself to make a shilling in the public employ, should yet be liable to have his peace of mind so much disturbed by any individual who shall think proper to arraign him in a newspaper. It is however an evil for which there is no remedy. Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost. To the sacrifice, of time, labor, fortune, a public servant must count upon adding that of peace of mind and even reputation. (emphasis added)

Even though Jefferson believed the papers to be wrong, he asserted that the liberty of the nation depends on the freedom of the press without limitation.


Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2017/02/18/thomas-jefferson-importance-free-press-nottheenemy/#OzPgw244hIHC8kik.99

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Response to poboy2 (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2018, 04:07 PM

3. ... nor can they be safe with them without information...

 

if a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilisation, it expects what never was & never will be. the functionaries of every government have propensities to command at will the liberty & property of their constituents. there is no safe deposit for these but with the people themselves; nor can they be safe with them without information. where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe.

Read more at http://www.patheos.com/blogs/warrenthrockmorton/2017/02/18/thomas-jefferson-importance-free-press-nottheenemy/#OzPgw244hIHC8kik.99

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Response to poboy2 (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2018, 05:29 PM

4. A free press is necessary for a strong democracy...

 

A free press is necessary for a strong democracy
BY LINDA A. KLEIN

MAY 2017

“Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.”—Thomas Jefferson (1786)


Jefferson understood that a vibrant and free press is critical to sustaining the rule of law. Along with free speech, a free press is indispensable for people to be informed and to participate in a democracy. On these points, lawyers and journalists are united.

The transparency that journalism brings to events makes government work better, decreases the risk of corruption and ultimately makes our nation safer. Lawyers often use information uncovered by journalists to prosecute wrongdoing, to hold officials accountable, and to rectify injustices.

Of course, the media robustly protects its First Amendment freedoms on its own. It is a strong institution that has served our country since its inception. But changing technology and an evolution in the way people consume news has brought challenges. Among them, fabricated news stories shared on social media sites and a tendency of readers to only consider news stories that adhere to their political ideology.

The erosion of trust in any institution, whether it be the media or the legal profession, weakens the foundation of our democratic system. In a 2016 Gallup poll on honesty and ethics by profession, only 23 percent ranked journalists very high or high, just above lawyers who came in at 18 percent.

Attacks by government officials on the institution of the press are also damaging. Calling the media “dishonest” or the “enemy of the American people” works to further destroy public trust. Trying to bully the press with threats or insults only works to weaken our democracy.
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http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/free_press_linda_klein

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