Free press is an American right, granted by the First Amendment… “Congress shall make no law… abridging the freedom of free speech, or of the Press…” In fact, the First Amendment has been interpreted by the Supreme Court as applying to the entire federal government (even though it is only expressly applicable to Congress). Since its origin the core purpose of the American press is that of “bulwark of liberty”, and as watchdog for the public interests, guarding against the very abuses of power it is being subjected to by the current administration. It is dangerous enough that the press is increasingly limited by economic and other challenges, but to put its voice further in jeopardy is disturbing.
The Society of Professional Journalists and several other journalism groups believe our government is guilty of “politically driven suppression of the news”. Where there is power, there is also a need for accountability and the public’s right to know cannot be deliberately eroded.
We discussed this issue on the Freedom of Information Act TV program recently and how the Press is continually challenged when it needs timely information in order to do its work. Shawn Paul Wood, a Dallas blogger, says, “Some argue that controlling media access is needed to ensure information going out is correct. But when journalists cannot interview agency staff, or can only do so under surveillance, it undermines public understanding of, and trust in, government. This is not a “press vs. government” issue. This is about fostering a strong democracy where people have the information they need to self-govern and trust in its governmental institutions”.
Read the rest of Paul’s thought provoking blog found here: Journalism Groups to President Obama: ‘Let Us Do Our Jobs!’ by Shawn Paul Wood.
Thank you Paul.
Niki Nicastro McCuistion
Press Club of Dallas