Democracy depends on freedom of the press

CAROLINE ENOS, Staff Writer, Editor

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In this moment, our nation is churning with political, social, and economic discontent. The opposing opinions of those who call this country home have transformed into battlegrounds, where offensive and defensive strategies used to protect our perspectives are blurred into one unidentifiable mess that has been accredited to the influence of our free press.

It is the responsibility of the press to act as the facilitator between opposing arguments. The press presents the goals of each argument, and why each argument exists, usually without the intervention of personal bias.

However, the nation’s perception of such responsibilities has been obscured in this past election, and the increased tensions between the press and the people has created a political atmosphere teeming with discontent.

But, this discontent we face is only a moment in our history as a nation. The United States has served as a beacon for all perspectives since its conception, and has continuously shown courage in the face of the tyranny that threatens our individuality.

Like this nation, the press has also defended the viewpoints of Americans throughout our history. From Upton Sinclair’s exposure of the meat packing industry to Woodward and Bernstein’s coverage of the Watergate scandal, the press has kept America in check when it fails to abide by its sacred code of justice.

This nation and the press play vital roles in the defense of free speech. Without examining and telling both sides of an argument, a journalist is not abiding by his or her responsibility to give voice to the voiceless. Without acknowledging the history and personal factors behind an individual and their morals, America is not being true to its “land of the free” moral grounds.

Yet both our nation and the press are imperfect. Both have fallen short in abiding by their codes of ethics and responsibilities. But when one falls, the other is always there to lift the other back up.

The free press is the self-sustaining security system that notifies and protects America from the injustices our founding fathers fought against. However, the press could not do this without the protection provided by the freedoms this nation grants it.  

Therefore, it is vital that the free press be preserved. The press is the spark that lights a flame under the people to initiate change. Without this spark, the people cannot always identify when change is necessary in this nation. Without this spark, higher powers could suppress any attempts for change altogether.

The press and our nation have shown that it takes courage to overcome our emotions and personal experiences that have shaped our perspectives, and to analyze another’s perspective objectively. They have proved that it takes even more courage to go against the restrictive social grains of this world and defend freedom of speech.  

Even though they sometimes fall short, their courage to defy oppressors and defend all people is not a thing of the past. So long as we remember the roots of our nation, the roots of why we so often show greatness, the free press and the United States will prevail through this moment. 

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