Freedom to Pursue the Truth

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BRUNSWICK, OH – Recently on the news, in newspapers, and on Twitter, many people have been exposed to the recent attacks on the news companies. President Donald Trump is famously known for calling out news outlets as “fake news,” saying they only cover events to boost their ratings. Not only is he known for calling out the news, but he took to Twitter to post a video of himself beating up CNN. These are all attacks on the press, the free press, which is granted to society under the first amendment.

The first amendment to the constitution says “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of the speech, or of the press,” which is stating there should be no limitations. Granted by our founding fathers, journalists should be able to publish and investigate all stories they desire, without fear of government, or administrative restraint.

While the constitution says there can be no limitation of the freedom of speech, it still happens today. Journalists are censored when they find a scandalous story. Censorship only means that the journalist is uncovering something that the individuals who censor the article do not want being seen by the public eye. As a true journalist, they will not give up, they are obligated and compelled to find the truth, and they will pursue it.

The court almost always sides with journalists in cases of censorship and suppression. One of the most famous cases, New York Times Co. vs. The United States in 1971, the supreme court ruled in favor of the New York Times agreeing they had the right to publish the famous documents known as the Pentagon Papers. Although it was argued it could risk national security, the court stated that without a freedom of the press, there would be no check on the governing body, which is essential to the success of democracy. There are many more cases, including New York Times Co. vs. Sullivan in 1964, stated that journalists may publish whatever desired about public officials as long as it is factual and will not be intended to defame.

A historic case for student journalists, Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier in 1988, was between a school district and a high school’s newspaper. Their student newspaper was paid for by the board of education which led to the suppression battles. When the Board of Education decided to stop certain articles from publication, it turned to the supreme court. Although the court sided with the school district, they exclusively stated the school district may only censor when their actions are “reasonably related to legitimate pedagogical concerns.” This means they may only censor if they and the courts feel the article would cause an immediate concern towards a child’s education and would cause an upset in social order. Otherwise, the administrations or government officials do not have a place to censor articles in our free democracy.

The freedom of the press is crucial, it is referred to as the fourth body of government. Journalists are constantly checking and holding officials to their actions considering otherwise their actions would go unwatched. Although they may face the fear of censoring, a journalist should never give up, because the day the governed give in, is the day democracy dies.

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