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Freedom of the Press Essay

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The press and media play a significant role in the political process. A significant reason for this is the fact that the constitution provides significant protection for this role. (America. gov) This role is broken into two distinct parts: news reporting and editorial and opinion. Both spheres have the potential to greatly influence public opinion and shape the political process. As such, a look into exactly how each sphere does this will be presented.

When the press reports facts surrounding a bill, a candidate or an elected official they are acting in the capacity of a watchdog. (Postman) That is to say, the purpose and goal of the press is to make sure politicians and government institutions remain accountable to the people. From this, the actions of the government must be conducted in such a way so as to avoid a public backlash as well as to maintain a level of honesty. In a way, the press makes sure that the political system remains on the “straight and narrow path” of proper behavior.

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No less an individual than Thomas Jefferson significantly supported such a notion in his famous letter to Edward Carrington. (Jefferson) Editorial and opinion material is not news reporting. It is the personal opinions of the media personality. There is nothing inherently wrong with such commentary provided the media personality does not claim it to be objective reporting. In the opinion personage, however, such a media individual can be a compelling activist.

This does not mean that every editorial will automatically be effective, but under the right circumstances is can be quite influential. If effective in this role, such a member of the press can galvanize a movement to partake in political actions. Such power can never be underestimated and nor can its influence. While the press has taken its knocks over the years regarding the means in which it reports on political issues the press remains a powerful force that can bring down politicians who are corrupt.

This is the special power that the press possesses and based upon the language of the first amendment this is the power it was always intended to possess. Bibliography AMERICA. GOV. “Freedom of the Press” in RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE Retrieved April 20, 2008 from http://usinfo. state. gov/products/pubs/rightsof/press. htm. Jefferson, Thomas. (1787 – Reprinted 1999) “Letter to Edward Carrington. ” Retrieved April 20, 2008 from http://etext. virginia. edu/jefferson/quotations/jeff1600. htm Postman, Neil. AMUSING OURSELVES TO DEATH. New York: Penguin, 2005.

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