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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Freedom Of The Press Is Undervalued


Freedom of the press is not nearly as valued as freedom of speech, according to a Knight Foundation survey of teachers and students.  The results were recently published in USA Today.

When asked what our most important First Amendment right is, 65% of students and 40% of teachers cited freedom of speech.  Freedom of religion was second – 28% of students and 42% of teachers cited it.  But only 7% of teachers and 3% of students picked freedom of the press.  This surprises me.

Without a free press we don’t have anything.  How can you trust government or know what’s going on without a free press?

The press is under attack from all corners.  Think of how challenging it is to produce real honest, accurate and comprehensive media coverage.

First, economics.  The media is limited by its resources.  It takes money to hire a talented staff that can do great research, practice journalistic ethics, be highly motivated, and have the skills to write and communicate well.  The media depends on advertising and subscription or broadcast fees.  The finances limit how much space or airtime can be dedicated to editorial content.

Second, the government and those the media report on look to deter or influence media coverage, throwing money, resources, legal pressures, and influence to work against our interests or those of the media.

Third, the world is huge, complex, and good at trying to cover up its activities.  The media needs to dig to get to the truth, to uncover the news it doesn’t even know exists.  It spends time tracking down lies, rumors, and dead-end stories.  It is obstructed with when it sniffs toward the truth.

Fourth, the public doesn’t always support the media, accusing it of sensationalism, bias, rush to judgments, and being incompetent.

Fifth, the media competes with itself and often makes mistakes desperately trying to scoop the others.

Sixth, the media is not just seen as providing a service such as information-sharing or advocating for what’s right, but as entertainment.  NYT headlines and Today Show interviews compete with so many distractions like downloadable movies, music, TV shows, books, etc.

But freedom of the press should be our most valued and sacred freedom, because without it, the world lives in ignorance and without truth and morality.

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, Media Connect, the nation’s largest book promoter. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at brianfeinblum@gmail.com. He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog © 2014

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