Freedom of the Press
Also referred to as Media Freedom, the Freedom of the Press is a law or rule that gives the media practitioners or journalists an opportunity or right to undertake publication of news stories in both print and electronic media without any interference from the government, organizations or even individuals. The reason for this is because; the media is viewed as the ‘mirror’ through which the society is able to get unbiased information about what is happening around them and even beyond the borders.
The Freedom of the Press is one of the fundamental constitutional provisions that are almost similar to all nations across the world. Besides, it is also one of those that have been faced with mixed reactions and challenges globally. Considering the advancement in media; introduction of the internet and more robust ways of sharing information, freedom of the media has been faced with numerous challenges regarding the way in which it should be applied. With these advancements, it has not been very easy to draw the lines on the extent to which the media can be allowed to conduct their activities.
While the freedom of the press has the implication that the media should not be interfered with at an overreaching state when discharging its roles, the question on whether to uphold that provision or not can be sought through the constitution or any other legal procedures. With regard to government information, any government may give directions on which materials should be protected and those that can be shared with the public. In that respect, the media can be held in contempt if the particular information that has been marked as secret or protected finds its way in the public domain.
As much as freedom of the press accords media practitioners the right to publish information on print or electronic media without interference, that right can at times be cut short. There are occasions when it is justified and other situations when it is not. For instance, if the media is broadcasting information that is deemed to cause hatred or ethnic clashes, the freedom of the press can be suppressed. On the other hand, the provision is justified when the media publishes information that is unbiased and
As much as the freedom of the press emphasizes on the independence of the media, a lot of responsibility and high level of professionalism is always required on the part of journalists. This is because, there are certain journalists who may take advantage of the provision and use the opportunity for personal gains and in the interest of only a few individuals who are able to buy air time and space on media platforms. While exercising this freedom, media practitioners are required to avoid biased kind of reporting. Publication of information should be in the sole interest of the public or society.
Freedom of the press is a fundamental provision for media practitioners and the society at large but can also be very poisonous if not exercised with caution.
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