Archive 2008 - 2019

The Importance of Free Press

by Bill Blinstrub

Engage! The Importance of a Free Press

The First Amendment to the United Stated Constitution reads:

Amendment I

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

    Last Friday, the White House took the surprising step of banning several news outlets- The New York Times, LA Times, The Huffington Post and CNN, all outlets that have reported on the Trump administration in a manner that they feel is “negative”- from attending a closed-door briefing with press secretary Sean Spicer.  The White House did, however, invite journalists from conservative outlets such as Breitbart News, The Washington Times and One American News Network, outlets that have reported exceedingly favorably on the administration. Other major media outlets were in attendance as well, as part of the press pool. 

     Did this action violate the first amendment and abridge the freedom of the press? Probably not.  Most likely, this was an attempt by the White House to silence some voices that it didn’t like, and send a message about its power. This action may not have been illegal, but it should be extremely troubling to the American people.

     The founders of our great country knew that a free and vigilant press was essential to the success and wellbeing of the country, as it assured that the government could not control what information the people did or did not receive. They knew that the public needed access to ALL of the information available so that they could decide for themselves what was in their best interest.  This has the tremendous benefit of keeping government honest. This is why our founding fathers wrote into the Constitution that Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.

     Despite this very clearly articulated amendment to our constitution, there have from time to time been attempts by some to suppress and discredit members of the press who report on them negatively. President Obama had a similar situation in 2009, when his administration attempted to ban Fox News from a similar briefing. And as with the current situation, other networks strenuously objected this treatment of their sister organizations. And as with the current situation, the ban was short lived. But the trend is unsettling.

      So how do we ensure that our press remains free, vigilant, and strong?

     The best way is to subscribe to a local newspaper. These critical institutions- which monitor and report on our politicians and government (as well as on sports, weather, entertainment, business, and many others subjects)-are facing real challenges in the digital age. They provide a tremendous public service with their reporting. They deserve and need our support.  And we NEED the vital information, facts, and reporting that they provide.

     Another great way is to let the politicians know that you are reading the newspapers, and that you trust the media. Call your representatives and let them know you are paying attention.

     Lastly, a great and often overlooked resource for political action is your local town political committee. Want to get involved on a truly grassroots level? These committees are a great place to start.

Comments (1)

Calling our reps is simple and satisfying, and they like to hear from us. The staff (and voicemail) require only a name, zipcode, and a short statement of what the issue is, since they are receiving so many calls. *** Rep. Katherine Clark - 617-354-0292 and 202-225-2836 *** Senator Warren - 617-565-3170 and 202-224-4543 *** Senator Markey - 617-565-8519 and 202-224-2742 Outside Holliston, to find your three members of Congress contact info: To find your regional MA Sate reps: This call could sound something like: "Hi I'm [a registered voter] from . I'm calling to tell that because of the media's vital place in our democracy, I support any action to assure the freedom of the press is not abridged."

ST Woodrow | 2017-03-07 07:17:53