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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Letter to the editor: Is it suppression to challenge the facts?

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 08, 2017 05:01 am
A recent letter-writer made a strong case for defending a free press, making the obvious point that it is the enemy of tyrants. There was an implication, though, that a president is “suppressing” a free press by challenging the factual content of news reports. There also was the assumption that the predominant national corporate journalism of today serves the traditional role of journalism as developed by Martin Luther and envisioned by the Founding Fathers, a truly independently owned medium willing to speak truth to power and accountable to individual subscribers and advertisers.

The First Amendment, however, is assigned to individuals, not to legally prescribed corporations. Skipping over the obviously differing incentives of an owner invested in his home community and a manager assigned by a distant headquarters, know that widely held corporations are justified because they provide financing for hugely expensive steel and manufacturing operations. In respect to mass media, however, such arrangements solely work to secure monopoly and maximize profits.

Which brings us to the tyrants from whom your letter-writer would save us. The career of Adolph Hitler is instructive in that regard. Hitler sent thugs to attack newspapers, but the papers were the small, proprietary ones. The large national newspapers, even as they remained in “private” hands, he incorporated into the Third Reich. (Fascist economic ideology emphasized that mass media could remain private, but they must uphold the national interest as politically defined or have their editors’ legs broken.)

Years ago I was assigned to give a Soviet journalist a tour of our newspaper plant. He was a sports writer, so the conversation went smoothly until we got to a point where it was necessary to define a “free” press. He became adamant that only his country’s newspapers were free of subscribers and advertisers and therefore could dare offend capitalist values. Well, we are well on our way to fixing that.

Craig Ladwig


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