Reflecting on Our Freedoms

by Kerry Martin

On July 4, it’s important to reflect on the freedoms that our country affords us, not the least of which is the freedom of speech and of the press.  I was reminded of my recent trip to Washington, D.C., and a wonderful museum dedicated to the media — the Newseum.

With a look at history through a reporter’s eyes, the Newseum covered the beginning of print journalism, since the invention of the printing press.

News Timeline

It even contained a 1787 copy of The Massachusetts Gazette, which printed the U.S. Constitution after it had been signed.

US Constitution 1787

What I did think was interesting was how the exhibits weren’t meant to glorify the industry with high praise.  There were plenty of examples of how investigative journalism helped serve as a watchdog to keep other institutions accountable and protect average citizens, but it also showcased some examples of how yellow journalism and sensationalism have discredited the industry.  And of course, it contained a collection of notable examples from history that demonstrated some of the same problems that plague newsrooms today … the rush to publish.

Titanic Passengers Safe

Dewey

Sentinel Bush

While we oftentimes comment on the state of the media industry throughout this blog, it’s important to remember the role of journalism in our society, both for sharing news and also sharing viewpoints.  The freedom of speech and of the press doesn’t always provide us with the right content or perspectives that we agree with, but it is that freedom that makes this country great.

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