Freedom of the Press in Jeopardy?

Francis Klingenberg, Centurion Staff

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Journalists are the overseers of the government and they keep the freedom of press alive.
The foreign governments that attempt to control the media pose a significant danger to the very idea that democracy is established upon.
The freedom of speech, press, assembly, religion, and petition is written into the First Amendment of the United States Constitution’s Bill of Rights. It protects the fundamental framework that a democratic thrives off.
George Washington once said, “the freedom of Speech may be taken away—and, dumb & silent we may be led, like sheep, to the slaughter.” He emphasizes the importance of free speech, and the consequences of its being taken away.
We can view these consequences in a recent event in international news. The death of the Saudi Journalist Jamal Khashoggi was a blow to many democratic nations.
He was killed in the Saudi Arabia Consulate in Istanbul for his journalism. Often you will find the killing of reporters to be a clear sign that the freedom of speech in a country is limited.
His death, and many like it, deserve to be recognized as an attempt to squelch the light in the darkness. It is to prevent discontent against a regime and stop any rebellion from occurring.
A single journalist can have an incredible influence on public opinion.
One word can cause a riot. A sentence can destroy a campaign. An article can create a new country. A series of works can take down a leader.
Watergate is an example that shows the power one journalist has. Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward were assigned to cover a simple burglary in a Washington D.C. hotel, The Watergate Hotel. What they uncovered and wrote removed a sitting president from office.
Carl Bernstein, long after the Watergate scandal had come to pass, said, “The great thing about Watergate is, is that the system worked. The American system worked. The press did its job. We did what we were supposed to do.” This quote brings up a strong point.
The job of the press is to be the watchdog of the government. The press ensures that the public hears what is happening, and what the government is doing.
This was why our founding fathers ensured that there was a freedom of press written into the Bill of Rights.
Woodward says, “Using these unnamed sources, if done properly, carefully and fairly, provides more accountability in government.” Being able to keep the government accountable keeps the Great American Experiment, our democracy, healthy and pure.
Ultimately, this is why foreign governments kill journalists and control the press. If the government is able to print lies in the newspaper, then the masses will be none the wiser – it will be the truth to them.
It is the job of the public to fight for their rights, to fight for the freedom of the press. Without it, anything can be printed by the government.
Jamal Khashoggi is only one, but there are countless journalists who put their lives on the line to expose corruptions and scandals.
The Committee to Protect Journalists says that there are 45 journalists who were killed in 2018 alone. In the past ten years, 633 were killed. Since 1992, there have been 1324 killed.
The numbers will only increase, especially as more fascist ideas spring up over the world.
It is the job of the citizen, you, to protect journalism and the first amendment, as well as the Constitution and what it represents. Democracy fails when We The People fail to protect the United States Constitution.

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