© 2013 LyannV

Blowing in the Wind: Freedom, Security, Constitutional Rights…and the Press

What is a journalist today? – does it include a blogger? Does it include someone who is tweeting? Are these journalists who are entitled to constitutional protections?

While an open internet preserves our right to communicate freely online, there is increasing confusion about the concept – and regulation – of free speech, and the roles of journalists and bloggers using the Internet as a platform for communication.

Under the Bill of Rights, any U.S. citizen is granted freedom of speech. The First Amendment states that Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of the press. Increasingly, however, there is discussion of whether bloggers are technically journalists, and whether bloggers deserve First Amendment protection.

An editorial in the Lexington, Kentucky, Herald-Leader  points out that governments will always be in conflict with the news media. “The nature of power is to consolidate and increase itself, and one way that’ done is by controlling information.”

Shield laws proved a government with a mechanism to determine the legality of certain types of speech. The Herald-Leader editorial argues for media shield laws in addition to the First Amendment, without going into a discussion of how it would even be determined who or what is the “media”.

Shannan Rhodes of Norman, Oklahoma, asserts “We already have a ‘shield law’ – it’s called the First Amendment.” Rhodes believes that any new law would serve only to “define what is legal journalism and what is illegal journalism, or who could be prosecuted for speech that doesn’t agree with the government stance on something.”

Using Twitter like a dandelion uses the wind... Spreading messages, not exactly knowing where they might go, some taking roots and blossoming, some making a adventurous journey through the air but not falling on fertile ground.  So what?  A process of beauty and joy.  ~Detlef Cordes, detlefcordes.org photo ©Lyann Valadez

Using Twitter like a dandelion uses the wind… Spreading messages, not exactly knowing where they might go, some taking roots and blossoming, some making a adventurous journey through the air but not falling on fertile ground. So what? A process of beauty and joy. ~Detlef Cordes, detlefcordes.org
photo ©Lyann Valadez

Rhodes wonders “who is the media, who decides that? To me, anything that limits who is free to be a journalist, is a law that limits the freedom of the press. I’m for free speech and any average Joe can put up their own blog and if people want to read it they will”.

The only restriction Rhodes believes could be valid for free speech, especially in the context of journalism, is in matters of national security “and of course ‘national security’ means the military.” Even so, he wonders where the average person, a blogger, is going to get information threatening to national security any more than a “professional” journalist.

In an article on Examiner.com , Anthony Martin asks, “What, exactly makes one an ‘authorized journalist’ anyway?” and points out that many of the most celebrated reporters in American media history, such as Walter Cronkite, did not have journalism degrees.

Martin asserts that the U.S. government is attempting to intimidate the press, not stopping with targeting reporters but setting its sights on bloggers and alternative media. He writes, “In short, the current regime is going down a very dangerous trail with its vendetta against bloggers and the alternative media. If you think they are rough on mainstream sources that ‘get out of line,’ then what do you suppose they will do to bloggers and alternative reports who tell the complete, painful and unvarnished truth about the tyrannical government we have voted for ourselves in Washington, D.C.?”

 

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

%d bloggers like this: