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What is the Value of a Free Press?

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The First Amendment of the United States Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.” It may seem unthinkable to us, but not all countries have freedom of the press. In nations such as North Korea, Turkmenistan, and Cuba reporters for news channels, magazines or newspapers have to say everything the government tells them to and only what the government tells them to.

Thomas Jefferson once said, “The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right;” In simpler words, every man or woman deserves to have the right to say whatever they please and broadcast it, no matter its contents. If we didn’t have the right to a free press, most news websites would look slightly different. Opinion columns would be an obvious no go, but along with that, stories about politics would be different too.

A great deal of political articles will show both the good and the bad, and this is due solely to the rights we have as American citizens. For instance, when CNN came out with an article about now President Donald Trump during the election, it wasn’t one sided. There were parts that would focus on his successes and the potential he has for “making America great again” while also showing what qualities may indicate he isn’t best suited for the job. In North Korea, great leader Kim Jong Un has total control over what is published about him, so it isn’t unreasonable that he might sway the truth to make himself look better.

The press is a way for the people of America to be aware of what is going on in the government. Without it, laws could be passed without the affected citizens even knowing, which could clearly lead to an uproar.

So, knowing this, our country without a free press could be very sheltered from what could be bad. For example, during the 2016 election, sources revealed that Trump said some very hateful and disrespectful things regarding women. Such language was described as locker room talk, which Trump later said he regretted this and was not proud of it.

Having a free press may not seem all that beneficial, but not having one seems detrimental.

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What is the Value of a Free Press?