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Media, Politics, and Government. 2 Freedom of the Press Origins of freedom of the press: Colonial-era printing press “Congress shall make no law…abridging.

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Presentation on theme: "Media, Politics, and Government. 2 Freedom of the Press Origins of freedom of the press: Colonial-era printing press “Congress shall make no law…abridging."— Presentation transcript:

1 Media, Politics, and Government

2 2 Freedom of the Press Origins of freedom of the press: Colonial-era printing press “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom… of the press…” Influence of the printing press Ideals of the Enlightenment Pamphlets and papers during the American Revolution

3 3 What Is the Press? Traditional forms: Non-traditional forms: Newspapers Magazines Pamphlets Posters Radio Television Internet

4 4 Free Press: Essential to Democracy The media as the “fourth branch” of government Important benefits of a free press: —Open expression of ideas —Advances collective knowledge and understanding —Communication with government representatives —Allows for peaceful social change —Protects individual rights

5 5 Freedom of the Press: History Original intent of the First Amendment was to protect political discussion Limitations on freedom of the press: Original text of the Alien and Sedition Acts (1798) Identifying a “clear and present danger” and clarifying libel Protection against prior restraint —Alien and Sedition Acts (1798) —Courts defined the scope of freedom of the press

6 6 Confidentiality of Reporters’ Sources Reporters do not have the same legal protections as doctors or lawyers when it comes to sources “Shield laws” Reporters sometimes face contempt-of-court charges if they refuse to reveal a source

7 7 Freedom of the Press: Key Court Cases John Peter Zenger (1735) Near v. Minnesota (1931) Minute sheet from the trial of John Peter Zenger

8 8 Freedom of the Press: Key Court Cases (continued) New York Times v. Sullivan (1964) New York Times v. U.S. (1971): “Pentagon Papers” Sheppard v. Maxwell (1966)

9 9 Freedom of the Press: Confidentiality of Sources Reporters hold source confidentiality as essential to the existence of a free press Sources more likely to come forward if kept anonymous Branzburg v. Hayes (1972) Recent cases involving reporter/source confidentiality (2005) Supreme Court cases:

10 10 Discussion Questions 1.Discuss how the printing press revolutionized the spread of information. What kinds of changes did it make in how people learned and what they could do with information? 2.Describe how the media serves as a “fourth branch” of government and review the benefits of a free press.


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