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English Detective #83 Freedom of the Press—Threatened? May 2, 2017
May 02, 2017

#83 Freedom of the Press—Threatened? May 2, 2017


Freedom of the press has been in the news a lot in the last year, with many journalists worrying that it is under increasing threat, both in the U.S. and in the rest of the world. Here are a few perspectives on it, as well as a little (American) history.

Voice of America News discusses a report showing increasing threats to the media in many countries, possibly encouraged by President Trump’s frequent criticisms of unfavorable reporting. The article has a glossary at the end, defining some of the less-common words used.

The New York Times has a more difficult article on why the First Amendment isn’t enough to completely protect the press.

I was looking for a balanced, but not too difficult, third article, and found many that were informative but difficult to follow. The best one I found, in TimeforKids, was written by a “kid reporter” in 2013— before the recent American election brought a new urgency to the issue. However, her article makes clear that the issues of press freedom are not new or one-sided. I think she gives an excellent summary of the history, as well as the continuing controversies, involved in the freedom of the press.

Finally, for those who might want more historical background on the ongoing tug-of-war between press freedom and government self-protection in the U.S. here are very brief accounts of 10 incidents in U.S. history involving the press. Most are laws or court cases that expanded or reduced press freedoms. They show that threats to the freedom of the press are nothing new.



Vocabulary


The vocabulary in these articles: reporters, journalists, journalism, the press, publications, etc. is mostly discussed in the middle section of Understanding the News in English.

When the articles talk about First Amendment rights, they are referring to the first amendment (official change) to the Constitution of the U.S., that guarantees freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press (journalism, or the media) among other basic rights. Most Americans regard these rights as fundamental to American democracy, though we often disagree on exactly what they should include.


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