Freedom of the Press Expanded

The question of who is a journalist has confounded the public and the press for a long time. The U.S. Supreme Court recognized this difficulty in its 1972 decision Branzburg v. Hayes. “The administration of a constitutional newsman’s privilege would present practical and conceptual difficulties of a high order,” wrote Justice Byron White. “Sooner or later, it would be necessary to define those categories of newsmen who qualified for the privilege, a questionable procedure in light of the traditional doctrine that liberty of the press is the right of the lonely pamphleteer who uses carbon paper or a mimeograph just as much as of the large metropolitan publisher who utilizes the latest photocomposition methods.”

White added:

“Freedom of the press is a ‘fundamental personal right’ which ‘is not confined to newspapers and periodicals. It necessarily embraces pamphlets and leaflets. … The press in its historic connotation comprehends every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion.’ … The informative function asserted by representatives of the organized press in the present cases is also performed by lecturers, political pollsters, novelists, academic researchers, and dramatists.”

Published by James Kirk-Wiggins

A Blogger who believes our press is no longer free or diverse. One voice crying in the wilderness, Free America. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke

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