Freedom of Speech in the Media

Essay by LauraBotescuUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, January 2010

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Freedom of speech is a guaranteed right in the US legal system. This enables the press to remain fully free, and the public to be fully informed. This freedom may sometimes be hindered by corporate pressures and government control. In countries without freedom of the press, messages are filtered through the government, allowing only what is considered acceptable information to be released to the public. This is the case of totalitarian regimes and communist countries.

This phenomenon could be easily observed in post-communist countries also. In communism, concepts as "freedom of the press"; "media watchdog", "agenda setting" "media ethics" existed in theory, but in the real life censorship and complete politicization were the main rules to follow. After the fall of the communist regimes many countries found themselves entering a democratic regime that they did not understand completely.

As forms of communication evolve, news reporting increases in size, and the scope of media influence expands, media ethics becomes an increasingly important issue in modern society.

People are exposed to television news, radio broadcasting, newspaper articles, and now digital media as well.

In the book, Four Theories of the Press written in 1963, Wilbur Schramm, Fred Siebert, and Theodore Peterson present four different models of the media . Two of them are relevant to the media today, the social responsibility system and the Libertarian system. The former has its roots in mid-twentieth century society and revolves around ethics in the media, but has always existed as an ideal; the latter is more prevalent today, and by nature threatens media ethics.

In the social responsibility theory of the press, the media is driven to benefit the public. It expects journalists to answer society's need for truth, requires an open and diverse debate on public issues, and honest updates of current events. In...