by Angela Fortuna and Sarah Willson
A college newspaper, such as The Recorder, often faces challenges when trying to communicate information to the public, due to the uncooperative behavior by some students and university officials.
In 1791, it was agreed upon by America’s seven founding fathers that Congress shall make no law prohibiting the right to a free press.
In the First Amendment, it states “…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press” is a crime against humanity.
Despite this, however, many people do not understand what freedom of the press is and what it entails.
Freedom of the press allows journalists the right to communicate important information provided by the government without any repercussions.
Not obliging to the free press defeats the purpose of having a democratic country; without it, many people will become unaware of the truth because it is shielded from the public eye.
Unfortunately, ever since Donald Trump took the Presidential Oath in January, the free press has been under attack.
This includes, but goes beyond the fact that the president has repeatedly called credible mainstream media sources “fake news.”
Trump has mentioned, on many occasions, his intentions of eliminating freedom of the press from the U.S. Constitution by enforcing libel laws that would make reporting on important milestones in U.S. history nearly impossible, and leave Americans oblivious to the truth.
Libel is a published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation. Currently, libel laws make it very difficult to accuse a defendant of libel without definitive facts that the statement has harmed the plaintiff’s reputation.
The commander-in-chief plans to open up these laws so that anyone can sue journalists for libel, even if what was published has not directly affected their lives in any way. There is a big difference between libel and so-called “hard facts.” Any fact can take a toll on a person’s reputation if used in a negative manner, but that does not mean it is libel.
One of the most recent instances was the president’s belief that Puerto Rico, which was hit by Category 4 Hurricane Maria in September, is doing “really well.” This comment came after mainstream media sources such as CNN and NBC reported on the devastation the island was facing after bearing the brunt of the storm. The president was quick to call out these sources as being fake, despite the fact that they were accurate.
Trump has called the media the “enemy of the people” on many occasions, which is mainly because he does not like the way the media covers him when he does something questionable.
The free press has a job to inform the public of the truth; not to lie about the president to make him look good.
The press is not being upheld to its roots because of Trump’s negative influence of the media on the American people.
Free media ultimately functions as a watchdog that can investigate and report on government wrongdoings, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Because of this, journalists often have the rare power of uncovering injustice that takes place throughout the world.
One of the biggest and most important scandals uncovered by American journalists was the Abu Ghraib torture and prisoner abuse case that took place during the war in Iraq. It was soon discovered by CBS News that the United States Army and Central Intelligence Agency committed multiple acts of human rights violations, including torture, against the prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq.
The abuse sent shockwaves throughout not only the U.S., but the rest of the world.
It was soon discovered that Abu Ghraib was not an isolated incident, but in fact part of a much broader crime that was taking place by Americans in other parts of the Middle East.
It was because of the journalists who uncovered this that hundreds, possibly even thousands of lives were spared.
However, despite the fact that journalists are often under attack, it is becoming exceedingly difficult to report on the truth.
Even though allegations of fake news are being targeted nationwide, it is important to note that they are still being attacked at Central.
So, how can we guarantee “freedom of the press” in a time when it is in jeopardy?