The Eaglequill

Freedom of the Press

Aliya Getchell, Reporter

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Having the right to a free press is the fundamental difference between true freedom and being trapped in a tyrant’s clutches. There are many examples throughout history where the press has used their right to freedom in order to expose and dismantle dishonest leaders. Think of Watergate. Think of the scandals that have been uncovered throughout history. Think of the journalists who crossed lines to bring you the truth. This shifts the power of the media into the hands of the people. If the people didn’t check the government in this way, we wouldn’t have a democracy. One of our constitutional rights is freedom of the press.

This is our right. This is something all people inherently have. This applies to all forms of speech. Journalism is the truest expression of speech that attempts to uncover the truth.

The base of all journalism started with investigative journalism during the 1900’s. This form of journalism brought justice to leaders, like Nixon, and paved the way for journalists everywhere. Our main purpose is to inform. Whether we are informing on news, events, people, opinions, sports, or entertainment we are educating a mass amount of people. Or so we hope.

In recent years, the trust in the press and government has declined sharply due to Donald Trump’s words in various speeches and tweets. One such tweet is from August 16th, 2018 in which he states, “There is nothing that I would want more for our Country than true FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. The fact is that the Press is FREE to write and say anything it wants, but much of what it says is FAKE NEWS, pushing a political agenda or just plain trying to hurt people. HONESTY WINS!” While President Trump is entitled to his beliefs, his constant words of “Fake News” are hurting the news world in a big way. We must resolve this issue to continue our rich history of democracy. Holding our leaders accountable creates less dishonesty, more vulnerability, and a sense of urgency to succeed.

Everyone needs a certain amount of pressure in order to succeed in life. If there is never any urgency, no one will ever feel the need to achieve their goals. As journalists we achieve this pressure while also critiquing policy, events, and giving overall feedback. This critique provides leaders with thoughts on what needs to be changed. What is successful. And what the people want. Knowing what the people desire is an integral part of leading well.

Holding our leaders accountable also insures that there is a level of innocence to what they do. By reporting every event that happens, our nation’s leaders must act appropriately in order to stay in office. If there is any hint of a scandal there is very little leader’s can do to help themselves look better. While the media sometimes abuses this privilege, the overall effect is positive. Journalists strive to make the government as transparent as possible to assuage the public’s fears.

Democracy can only succeed when everyone works together. Everyone. The public must have some level of trust in the government and media. The government must work with the media and people to succeed in policy making. The media must not abuse their power over the government or misinform the people. Democracy is a machine. It will only work well when these three integral parts are synchronised.

We have never doubted the constitutional freedoms of religion, assembly, speech, and grievances listed in the first amendment. Why then are we now scared to defend our freedom of the press? The founders listed this freedom in the hopes that it would continue to push the thinking of the people. They would be awestruck at the amount of people who now distrust the press because of one president eliciting the words “Fake News”. We must not succumb to the pressure of society and disregard the media. If we do, we will never move forward as a society.

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Freedom of the Press