FREEDOM OF THE PRESS
The First Amendment Center is an amazing resource for all things First Amendment, including a page that addresses each of its five elements and one that's dedicated to the freedom of the press. The center is run by The Freedom Forum, which offers free Zoom workshops and
Net neutrality and the struggle over access to the Internet continues to play out on the national stage. Scholar Robert Darnton relates the importance of net neutrality to early philosophical theories from John Locke and John Milton about a free press in this Chronicle of Higher Education piece. (The Chronicle will ask you to create a free account to read the full article.)
"There's no such thing as free speech," Stanley Fish says—and this short introduction to the courts' understanding of free speech explains why a scholar might say that (from Stanford University's Encyclopedia of Philosophy).
From its early days, the U.S. government has been based on a vision that the "diversity and magnitude of the public, in fact, is its strength"—and that journalism needs to serve an interlocking public, according to this brief essay from the American Press Institute.
Watchdog journalism has also been called accountability journalism,
and it means pointing out politicians' spin to audiences, holding public officials to their promises and ferreting out the truth, says Ron Fournier, who was the Associated Press bureau chief in Washington.
The Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit organization, is an example of good watchdog journalism. Check out the website to see some of its latest stories.
What happens when the news media fail to fulfill their watchdog role? Read this excerpt from Dean Starkman's book about the lack of warning from the media about the U.S. financial crisis.
And read this intriguing discussion of why watchdog journalism is so important, and how a few good journalists were able to uncover the phone-hacking scandal in England (from The Guardian's Alan Rusbridger).
For help working on your own investigations, Investigative Reporters & Editors is a nonprofit organization that provides tips, tools and training for investigative reporting. (You have to be a member for many, but not all, of the organization's services.)
Press Freedom in the Digital Era
"Think about it—Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook have more ability to control what we know or think we know than anything in history," says Alberto Ibarguen, president of the Knight Foundation, on Jonathan Capehart's Cape Up podcast. Capehart and Ibarguen talk about the freedom of the press when the censors might be social media and algorithms. The Knight Foundation advocates and funds projects that support the First Amendment, journalists and journalism excellence.
Press Freedom is a Global Cause
The United Nations has declared May 3 World Press Freedom Day to celebrate freedom of the press. "Facing the dissemination of fake news is an imperative for journalism, and it is also an opportunity to prove the importance of new and traditional media and their ability to provide verifiable information in the public interest," says Valeria Robecco, president of the United Nations Correspondents Association.
The Watchdog Press in Song
"This American Life" reporters created a musical to help explain a complex situation: The story, based on months of research and mountains of information, told about a company that had used inside knowledge to make money at the expense of the entire investment community. The story was investigated by ProPublica, a nonprofit news organization in which "This American Life" participates.
The Watchdog Press Explains the System
"The Giant Pool of Money" provides in-depth, explanatory journalism about the problems affecting the entire U.S. economy in a radio program. But reporters also worked outside the box in other ways: They teamed up from different programs and departments at National Public Radio.