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Response to poboy2 (Original post)

Mon Apr 2, 2018, 06:29 PM

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


A free press is necessary for a strong democracy

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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