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The Freedom of the Press

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Thank John Peter Zenger.

Thanks to John Peter Zenger you can sit in your room and share your thoughts on your own personal blog and not worry that the government will toss you in jail. Zenger was a newspaper publisher who saw his life’s work go up in flames and was then forced to defend himself against libel charges in 1735 when the government didn’t like what he had to say. The Trial of John Peter Zenger is often seen as the cornerstone court case of American press freedom.

It's generally known as "the Press" in our country because, when the founding fathers wrote freedom of the press into the Bill of Rights, the printing press was the most popular form of mass communication. Today we call it "the media."

"PRESS" is an extremely broad term. It includes all systems that make information available to people: newspapers, television, radio, books, lectures, movies, art, dance, telephone, cassettes, CDs, DVDs, magazines, electronic bulletin boards, computer networks, billboards, video tapes... you name it.

All of the world's major religions, philosophies, schools of political thought, and systems of government were spread through writing. In fact, the spread of civilization, religion, and the written word occurred simultaneously, each dependent on the other.

Protecting the Freedom of the Press leads to...

  • The Discovery of Truth
  • Facilitating Participation by Citizens in Political Decision-Making
  • Creating a More Adaptable and Stable Community
  • Assuring Individual Self-Fulfillment
  • Checking Abuse of Governmental Power
  • Promoting Tolerance
  • Creating a More Interesting Community

Protecting the Freedom of the Press protects your right to know.