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Liberty to publish facts and opinion

Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the principle that communication and expression through various media, including printed and electronic media, especially published materials, should be considered a right to be exercised freely. Such freedom implies the absence of interference from an overreaching state; its preservation may be sought through constitutional or other legal protections.


Amendment I to the U.S. Constitution
Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom ... of the press ...


UpdAgenda for Liberty, by Jim Powell, The Triumph of Liberty, 2000
Lengthy biographical essay of the Leveller John Lilburne
In 1625, King Charles I issued a proclamation making it illegal to publish or import a book without a license from the Bishop of London William Laud or the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford or Cambridge ... Dr. John Bastwick was imprisoned and had his ears cut off for criticizing Church of England officials. Through Bastwick, Lilburne met William Prynne, a Presbyterian lawyer who had published many attacks on the Church of England, for which he was fined; ... he was condemned to life imprisonment in the Tower of London ... and his cheeks were branded with the initials "SL" (for seditious libeler).
The Authority of a Foreign Talisman: A Study of U.S. Constitutional Practice as Authority in Nineteenth Century Argentina and the Argentine Elite's Leap of Faith, by Jonathan M. Miller, American University Law Review, Jun 1997
Examines the history of Argentine law prior to adoption of the 1853 Constitution, the arguments in Alberdi's Bases and the influence of the U.S. Constitution during the remainder of the 19th century and up to 1930
In Sistema económico, all individual liberties in the 1853 Constitution were described in terms of the contribution they make to economic growth. For example, Alberdi argued that a free press is required because the press itself is a type of industry, because it improves productive techniques by spreading knowledge, and because it acts as a watchdog 'to denounce and combat . . . the errors and abuses which hinder industry.'
Big Brother, not Snowden and Greenwald, Is the Story, by Sheldon Richman, 27 Jun 2013
Examines the reaction from various media pundits and talking heads (Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Andrea Mitchell, Chris Matthews, etc.) both progressive and conservative to the Snowden and Greenwald revelations about NSA data collection
"Instead of being adversaries to government power ... [the media of Washington, D.C., are] ... servants to it and mouthpieces for it." So said the Guardian's Glenn Greenwald, who broke the story of Edward Snowden's disclosure of NSA spying ... MSNBC personnel routinely describe Greenwald as "defensive," which apparently is their code word for people who push back at stupid questions. For example, when [David] Gregory asked Greenwald if he could be indicted for "aiding and abetting" Snowden, and Greenwald asked in return how a journalist could equate reporting with criminal activity, he was treated with disdain.
The Central Question, by Charley Reese, 20 Jan 2007
Self-government only works if the people have access to the truth. If they are lied to and propagandized instead of informed, then they, in fact, live in a dictatorship, though one carefully disguised by their controllers. That's why Thomas Jefferson said that newspapers that whore for political parties or other interests are no different than newspapers controlled by a government.
Étienne de La Boétie, Part 2, by Wendy McElroy, Freedom Daily, May 2003
Examines the major themes in La Boétie's "Discourse": custom (habit), control of information, buying off the people and withdrawal of consent
After the majority had become accustomed to automatic obedience, the tyrant's main challenge was to reduce dissent. There were two basic means of doing so: by controlling the press and by monopolizing education, because "books and teaching ... give men the sense to comprehend their own nature and to detest tyranny." In this manner, the tyrant prevented people from comparing the past with the present ... [Mystification] was a second reason why people rendered automatic obedience—a regulated press and school system had convinced them that the ruler's authority was legitimate.
In Memory of the Charlie Hebdo Victims, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 9 Jan 2015
Comments on the Jan 2015 attack and killings at the offices of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and the ensuing mainstream commentary
Amazingly, some commentators suggest that these lives could have been saved had the magazine abstained from satirizing Islam or had the French government censored it ... Countless American officials and commentators have denounced these crimes as an attack on freedom of the press and speech, which they surely were. But the Obama administration hasn't exactly been respectful of those freedoms, as its pursuit of a record number of whistleblowers and harassment of reporters demonstrate. According to Reporters Without Borders, the United States now ranks 46th in press freedom, a fall from 33rd.
Related Topics: Government, Humor
John Lilburne: The First English Libertarian, by Peter Richards, 29 Mar 2008
Detailed biographical essay of "Freeborn John" concluding with reasons to use the modern term "libertarian" for him
A licensing law, enacted in 1586, existed to prevent the publication of seditious books and pamphlets; the authority for this rested with the Archbishop of Canterbury or the Bishop of London. Once licensed, a book needed to be registered with the Stationers Company before being printed. The Stationers Company had the powers to seize unregistered stock and arrest offenders, who would then be brought before the court of Star Chamber for trial ... [Lilburne] came up with a plan to produce more copies [of The Letany] by going to Holland, thus getting around the printing ban, and then smuggling copies back into England.
The Land of the Free, by H. L. Mencken, 12 Jan 1925
Relates the story of Italian-American newspaper owner Carlo Tresca and his travails for daring to criticize the Italian Fascists
The little two-line advertisement of September 8, announcing a book in Italian on birth control, showed the way. Experienced witch-hunters from the Department of Justice were rushed to New York, Tresca was indicted for advertising a means of preventing conception, and his trial was called in hot haste. ... other charges were mixed up with the complaint. One was the he had printed an article entitled 'Down With the Monarchy.' This was plainly not illegal, but the prosecution made much of it.
Related Topic: United States
Liberty in America during the Great War, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 15 Aug 2014
Examines how various areas of American society were influenced by Woodrow Wilson's decision to enter the First World War, including Supreme Court cases decided after the war
Under the authority of the Espionage Act, Postmaster General Albert Sidney Burleson banned publications from the mail or stripped them of their second-class mailing permits for even suggesting that Wall Street or the arms industry controlled the government ... When District Judge Learned Hand ordered Postmaster General Burleson to stop closing the mails to dissenting magazines, an appeals court overturned the order and the Supreme Court let the appellate decision stand ... Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. ... enunciated the "clear and present danger" standard for when speech and press may be controlled.
Liberty of the Press, by James Mill, Encyclopædia Britannica, 1823
There is another use of the freedom of the press ... If any set of men are chosen to wield the powers of government, while the people have not the means of knowing in what manner they discharge their duties, they will have the means of serving themselves at the expence of the people; and all the miseries of evil government are the certain consequence.
Machiavelli and U.S. Politics, Part 4: War, by Lawrence M. Ludlow, 22 Aug 2005
Part of a six-segment series examining The Prince vis-à-vis contemporary U.S. politics; this article covers Machiavelli's simple advice on war and contrasts it with that of James Madison and Robert Higgs in Crisis and Leviathan
[M]uch of the press remains uncritical of constitutional violations. Instead, their chief concern is being cut off from inside sources of political gossip in retaliation for covering news stories that are critical of the administration. The specter of being frozen out of the loop is as frightening as having the government shut them down or arrest them, as Lincoln did to hundreds of newspapers and thousands of editors, legislators, and businessmen who disagreed with his policies ... [H]as anyone seen an al-Jazeera broadcast from Iraq lately? The U.S. military blew up its Baghdad office ...
Milton, John (1608-1674), by Antony Flew, The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism, 15 Aug 2008
Biographical essay
The Stationers' Company of London, representing the city's publishers, complained that the pamphlet had been published in violation of the recently passed 'Printing Ordinance,' which required all publications to be approved by government censors and licensed by the Stationers. Milton responded with his Areopagitica, a searing attack on censorship addressed directly to Parliament and written, he said, 'in order to deliver the press from the restraints with which it was encumbered ... that the power of determining what was true and what was false, what ought to be published and what to be suppressed, might no longer be entrusted to a few illiterate and illiberal individuals.'
Not Just Japanese Americans: The Untold Story of U.S. Repression During 'The Good War', by Jeffrey Rogers Hummel, The Journal of Historical Review, 1986
Detailed and well-annotated survey of United States government's repression of civil liberties during World War II, both before and after the attack on Pearl Harbor
[T]he Office of Censorship ... examined all forms of communication entering or leaving the country—letters, cables, telephone calls, even films ... The Office also drew up an ostensibly voluntary Code of Wartime Practices that applied to press and radio news reporting. The military engaged in its own independent censorship covering the news it released, ... the dispatches of war correspondents, and all media within conquered territories. When the isolationist Chicago Tribune innocently published too many details about the Battle of Midway, the Justice Department tried to prosecute. The grand jury refused to indict, however.
Pentagon Conduits, by Sheldon Richman, 25 Apr 2008
Discusses the revelations by The New York Times about TV military analysts, appearing to be independent observers, but briefed by the Pentagon and connected as lobbyists, executives or consultants of sundry military contractors
This is not the first time the administration’s corruption of the news has been revealed ... The latest story has gotten little notice outside the blogosphere. The television networks certainly have no interest in covering it. One might think that the major news organizations would be ashamed of themselves, but we're long past that point. They have been boosters of war for many years. They, along with the major newspapers, were little more than cheerleaders during the administration's run-up to the Iraq invasion. The Times was one of the biggest offenders. Who needs state-controlled media when you have a lapdog press?
The Post Office as a Violation of Constitutional Rights, by Wendy McElroy, The Freeman, May 2001
Prompted by the announcement of the U.S. Postal Service eBillPay service (now discontinued), surveys the history of mail service vis-à-vis civil rights, from colonial days to the present
Second, freedom of the press included—and, indeed, required—the right to privately distribute material to whoever wished to read it. A government postal monopoly would be able to ban periodicals from using virtually the only legal channels of distribution. This control constituted a direct affront to the First Amendment. ... In 1797, with the new Constitution in force, Congress enacted the first law limiting what could be mailed. It was a modest prohibition against newspapers with wet print being posted because they tended to damage accompanying mail. But the definition of 'unmailable' soon acquired political meaning.
The Recipe for Singapore's Prosperity, by Daniel J. Mitchell, 17 Jul 2017
Examines various policies in Singapore that have led to its ranking high in the Economic Freedom of the World, but also pointing out problems that detract from a similar score in the Human Freedom Index
Singapore is very pro-market, but it's not very pro-liberty ... Donovan Choy highlights some of the nation's shortcomings ...
... Education is largely monopolized by the state from the primary school level up until the university level ... Singapore suffers from a severe lack of press freedom, ranking at an alarming 151 in the World Press Freedom Index ... The state also controls public broadcasting from television to radio. ... Singapore is perhaps most well-known for its non-tolerance of drugs. ...
Related Topics: Singapore, Taxation
The Second Superpower is the Real Fourth Estate, by Kevin Carson, 28 Jun 2013
Explains the term the "Fourth Estate", how the current fourth estate are simply stenographers and who are supplanting them as true journalists, as per James Moore's idea of a "Second Superpower"
The one unforgivable sin, for a respectable professional journalist in the so-called "Fourth Estate," is to supplement one’s careful stenography of what "both sides" said with an independent factual investigation as to whether it's true or not. What "both sides" say must speak for itself. If one side lies, and the other side doesn't challenge it, it's not the reporter's job to tell readers what the truth is. If "both sides" actually agree on many of the structural assumptions of the current system, the existing structure of power will not be called into question by respectable journalism.
War Is Peace and Other Things the Government Wants You to Believe [PDF], by Sheldon Richman, 8 Jun 2008
Transcript of speech given at The Future of Freedom Foundation's 2008 conference, “Restoring the Republic: Foreign Policy & Civil Liberties”, including audience questions
Noam Chomsky has long pointed out that we don't need to have a directly controlled press ... [T]hey toe any administration line, whoever it happens to be, much more loyally and strictly than it would be if we had a state newspaper ... [N]ow thankfully you can go online and read papers from all over the world and get a much straighter scoop because they don't give the deference to the U.S. government the way the U.S. media do ... Look how they treat guests on all these news talk shows. There's never any tough questioning. Watch Hardball. There's a joke: "Hardball, it's not even softball."


John Gilmore on inflight activism, spam and sarongs, by John Gilmore, Mikael Pawlo, GrepLaw, 18 Aug 2004
Topics discussed include: terrorism, the drug war, encryption, censorship, spam, the end-to-end principle, the right to travel, anonymity, secret FAA/TSA rules, blogs, copy protection, free software and the EFF
# Has the EFF succeeded? ...
... [I]f you look back, you can see some major victories:
  • Web publishing lets anybody say anything ... Drug policy reform groups still can't buy billboard space without filing a lawsuit, but every single one of them has a web site and their audience knows where to find it. All kinds of information, from Bill Clinton's peccadillos to how British Government agents were assasinating people in Ireland, has come out despite overt or covert restrictions on prior forms of media. It is much harder for powerful people to suppress information than it was in 1990.
  • ...

Cartoons and Comic Strips

All's Well ..., by Joel Pett, Lexington Herald-Leader, 11 Jul 2006
Non Sequitur, by Wiley Miller, 22 Aug 2004
What happened to freedom of the press?!!
No Peeky!, by Dwane Powell, 25 Dec 2008
Somebody Get the Lawyers Workin' on this Freedom of the Press Thing!, by Drew Sheneman
You Are Under Arrest, by Tom Toles, The Washington Post, 21 Aug 2006

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Freedom of the press" as of 9 Nov 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.