The Importance of Media Freedom

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Freedom of the Press: An Overview

Freedom of the press has for long been a startling topic. Countries have been advocating having the outline of media freedom in their constitutions. Some of them have been able to outline the liberty, but it is seen that political leaders have been exploiting it, mainly when information to be conveyed is against their interests (Mitchell 29).

The Purpose and Challenges of Media Platforms

In this work, the purpose and challenges of media platforms are critically analyzed and explained. It is due to the continued debate of giving the press absolute liberty that this work describes the positive elements that may be accompanied by having independent media platforms. It is known that broadcasting channels are relied upon by people to keep them updated on emerging issues. However, if the press is not given the freedom of conveying information, it will tend to provide bias data an act that may cause mistrust among the audience. Thus, the principal focus of this paper is to give a coherent description of the liberty of the press.

Exploitation of Press Liberty by Individuals and Institutions

Liberty of the press is exploited by individuals as well as institutions despite the fact that it is a valued right of the public. Individuals take advantage of the vulnerability to influence the media and air their thoughts. As the society develops, broadcasting channels have become a more reliable source of information for people. One indication of the significance of a free press is that when the minority rule powers assume control over a nation, their first demonstration is to take control of the media. By controlling the operations of media by other third participants, the most probable thing to happen is the conveyance of bias information. Moreover, the airing of bias information may cause significant effects on the development of a nation both economically and socially. Therefore, it is essential for states to grant freedom to the press if they want their countries to improve economically.

The Historical Background of Freedom of the Press

The starting points of people’s freedom of speech and press liberty are almost indistinguishable, because essential articulation about the legislature, either composed or talked, was liable to discipline under English law. It did not make a difference whether what had been printed was valid… Government saw the very truth of the feedback as evil since it gave the opportunity to feel qualms about the respectability and dependability of the public officers. Advance toward a genuinely free press which individuals could distribute their perspectives without dread of government backlash was stopping. During the mid-eighteenth century, Sir William Blackstone proclaimed that freedom of media had to be limited despite the fact that it was fundamental to the idea of an independent state (Gladstone 18). On the other hand, Albert Camus stated, “A free press can be harmful or beneficial, but without freedom, it will be destructive” (Gladstone 39). From Camus' statement, it is clear that freedom of the press is an essential aspect of the development of a country.

The Role of Media as a Watchdog

In understanding the link between media and government, the most vital part of the press is its capacity to play the role of a watchdog, observing and censuring government activities. However, playing this role pose more problems to the media platforms since they become restricted to many government undertakings. Most of the restrictions the authorities offer the media are pointed more on the capabilities and practices of the press. It is not ethical for government officials to influence the operations of the media since that act may pose even more problems to the development of their countries.

The Influence of Powerful Institutions on the Media

For long broadcasting has been viewed as being attached to the power structure with overwhelming organizations in society. The press, in this way, repeated the perspectives of overwhelming foundations not as one among various elective points of view but as the focal and "self-evident" (Curran et al. 21). As indicated by followers of the Marxist political economy theory, there is an inclination to escape the disagreeable and capricious and to draw on "qualities and suspicions which are most important and most generally legitimated" (Curran et al. 23).

Media Limitations and Their Effects on Countries

Currently, different opinions are made regarding TV, radio, and the web that gives data to millions of individuals all over the globe. The popularity of these media platforms has made countries look for ways of limiting them to safeguard their interests. As stated in one of the quotes in the assigned reading, the press is enlightened to address any threat to the public (Gladstone 62). The media focuses mostly on the negative parts of a state, thus instilling a biased and negative image of a country to its citizens.

Global Variations in Media Freedom

Media freedom around the globe is extraordinary. The developed nations have a superior condition of broadcasting independence than the third-world countries (Mitchell 35). In the Marxist fundamentalist theory, political and financial experts consider ideology subordinate to the monetary base (Curran 27). Therefore, ownership and fiscal control of the media are viewed as critical factors in decisions pertaining to the control of media messages.

The Effects of Media Freedom on the Economy

The effects of media freedom on the economy were evident in Swaziland. The country is a developing state where the structure of the government incorporates a ruler and a PM alongside the cabinet. The legislature of Swaziland pronounced that the press in that country was free with and had no motives of negatively affecting the journalists (Mogekwu 47). However, there has not been any particular free press condition in the Swazi constitution. In Matt Mogekwu’s work, he addresses the failure of the Swazi government as well as the media to work towards the improvement and development of the country. The supporter-customer relationship that appears to exist between them has inspired some level of disdain concerning the press that has shown itself in the sort of tight position taken by the reporters over the years. The columnists compose as though to set out the administration, an act which is undesirable to the development of the state. The author concluded that press freedom has turned into a vital political issue in Swaziland. In general, the legislature seems hesitant to rush the procedure of democratization in both the region of correspondence and the overall territory of administration. Hindering the press from airing explicit news may make them react in some ways. One of the ways the media can opt to respond is through the condemnation of the legislature together with its undertakings. By instilling a lousy picture of the government in people, it may cause citizens of a country to have varied opinions regarding their governance. Furthermore, the country may be portrayed as one without democracy to the other nations that may respond by removing aid in such countries. As stated in one of the quotes in the assigned reading, it is clear that when citizens have access and the right to speak but are denied the opportunity to elect their leaders freely, the country is ripe for revolution (Hoffman 897).

Challenges and Lack of Credibility in News Media

The news media has faced various challenges such as lack of belief and credibility from its audience. Over the years, lawyers have become more trusted than journalists due to a lack of transparency in their work. Furthermore, pressure for attracting an audience, traffic, and ratings have outweighed the relevancy of the information presented to the viewers. However, no news organization or journalist has been publicly held accountable for breaches that violate the journalistic ethical standards. Individuals no longer believe the information relayed by media companies unless it is accompanied by evidence such as pictures and videos to back it up. Moreover, users do not trust first-hand knowledge from witnesses or participants who the journalist uses to speculate the situations, as the people believe that they could be coached just to relay particular information. Additionally, news presenters have tried to provide content that is truthful in attempting to perform a better job through holding each other accountable, from news editors to the reporters on the ground. But the information they relay is still not credible since they lack tools and the time to look for trustworthy content.

The Challenge of Diverse Audiences

The other challenge that the news media face is appealing to diverse audiences in society. The engagement of press organizations in the community has significantly reduced as compared to before when broadcasting was beginning. Instead, reporters are more focused on situations and issues that are not beneficial to people, making them innovative to reduce the problems they face in the field (Gurevitch 13). Furthermore, there is a tendency for news media to provide content targeted to a specific group of persons rather than for all people. Journalists face the dilemma of the audience they want to focus on since they try to engage the target group that has a significant number of people. Recently, entertainment has become the most viewed and listened to program on the media platforms. However, the majority of the information conveyed in this program is gossip and rumors regarding lifestyle and the interactions of influential people in the community.

The Value of a Free Press in Society

The value of a free press cannot be underestimated in any case. Scholars have long been writing about positive factors that come with the liberty of having a free press in a nation. According to these scholars, a society cannot attain democracy in the absence of a free press. The idea of freedom of media here is that for a country to develop, there must be an open press operating in those countries. The ability of the press to scrutinize the government is what makes it vital for it to be free (Hoffman 899). In the absence of a free press, developed nations could not have made milestones regarding the democracy and liberty of the people. In this context, there is a notion that terms the media as being another body that directs and helps a state to be run on the foundation of democracy. Many scholars have justified the idea of the press being a frequent checker of the three arms of a government, represented by the executive, legislature, and the judiciary. From a critical perspective, it is known that the executive on many occasions appears to control the other two arms. However, each division is formed to run independently, but political leaders have been exploiting the other two bodies. Therefore, due to the impunity of these agencies, countries that have given absolute liberty to media tend to have constant scrutiny. Therefore, scrutinizing a government opts to initiate a sense of having free and fair governance in countries.

Factually Cognizant Citizens and Media Limitations

Having a free press helps people be factually cognizant of topics of their interest. Press restrictions to certain limits place a direct impact on the citizens of a state. The problem of limitations to media platforms is mostly experienced by third-world countries. People from these nations tend to get varied messages concerning issues involving their governments (Gurevitch 19). Failure of the press to air trustworthy information causes diverse reactions among people. In general, it becomes difficult for people who doubt the transparency of the media to believe in the message conveyed by different broadcasting channels.

The Call for Complete Liberty of the Press

There have been varied responses as to whether people should have absolute trust in the media regarding whatever information they convey. However, this work advocates for complete liberty of the press. It is known that third-world countries stagnate behind due to their form of leadership. Furthermore, the restriction of the media to air information in the interest of political leaders makes it more difficult for these countries to develop. Despite the fact that the press is being exploited by politicians, people should trust it in a way that the media will see it is betraying its loyalty to the public. Many people believe that developed countries have granted their broadcasting channels the liberty to convey information without limit. On the other hand, scholars have also been addressing the issue of press liberty (Gladstone 38). However, this work advocates for a free press that is independent of influential personnel.

Ensuring Responsible Press Freedom

In conclusion, it is essential for the media to possess absolute liberty. However, the constitution of countries should have clauses that dictate the extent of this freedom. It is known that total freedom has on many occasions brought about impunity in bodies that have been offered with such a high privilege. The clauses should outline what information to be conveyed directly and what to be filtered before being broadcasted. On the other hand, the degree of the press freedom granted should also not be exploited by individuals or institutions since it is part of many bodies and agencies that are entitled to scrutinize the operations of a country. Therefore, this work is of the opinion of giving the press liberty to help leaders do their undertakings according to the ethics of their operations.

Works Cited

Gladstone, Brooke. The Influencing Machine: Brooke Gladstone on the Media . WW Norton & Company, 2011.

Gurevitch, Michael, et al., eds. Culture, Society and the Media. London: Methuen, 1982.

Hoffman, Aaron M., Crystal Shelton, and Erik Cleven. "Press Freedom, Publicity, and the Cross-National Incidence of Transnational Terrorism." Political Research Quarterly, 2013.

Mitchell, Harvey. "Tocqueville's Mirage or Reality? Political Freedom from Old Regime to Revolution." The Journal of Modern History, 1988.

Mogekwu, Matt. "Politics of Press Freedom and the National Economy in Swaziland." Media Development, 2001.

September 11, 2023

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