Tuesday, June 28, 2005

The First Ammendment and the Media

The Puppy-Blender knows how to get to the point:
'That's one of the problems with claims to "journalistic privilege." Journalists aren't claiming the right to tell us things we want to know. They're claiming the right to not tell things they'd rather we didn't know.

Another problem is that claims of privilege turn the press into a privileged class. If ordinary people witness a crime, they have to talk about it. If they participate in a crime — say, by receiving classified documents — they have to say where they got them. Journalists want to be treated differently, but the First Amendment doesn't create that sort of privilege. Nor should we.

Many people who support these privileges say that they would be limited to "real" journalists. But who decides when a journalist is real? If the government decides, isn't that like licensing the press, something the First Amendment was designed to prevent? And if journalists decide, isn't that likely to lead to a closed-shop, guild mentality at exactly the moment when citizen journalism by non-professionals is taking off? All sorts of people are reporting news via Web logs and the Internet. Shouldn't they be entitled to the same privilege?

Press freedom is for everyone, not just professionals. James Madison wrote about "freedom in the use of the press," making clear that the First Amendment is for everyone who publishes, not just members of the professional-media guild.'
This is a big part of the problem; this is a big part of the reason that the media has become what it is, an elitist class that is no longer trusted. Its special privileges have allowed elitist media to become disconnected from reality, to the point where they no longer understand the consequences of their actions.


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