why do we have freedom of press

But press freedom is under attack today, with government authorities seizing journalistsБ phone records, detaining reporters at border crossings and demanding that journalists reveal the identities of confidential sources. This kind of harassment doesnБt just affect БprofessionalБ journalists. The internet and new technologies have democratized media making, with more people taking up the tools of journalism. And after years of newsroom layoffs, many of the people who are most at risk are citizen journalists and indie reporters operating outside the mainstream press.


With more people than ever before engaged in media making, there are also more people who have a stake in defending press freedom. The First Amendment belongs to all of us and the public has to have a seat at the table when new laws are being debated. We must leverage public pressure to make our leaders understand what the First Amendment means in the digital age, to beat back bad laws that threaten our rights to connect and communicate, and to support new journalistic efforts in all their forms.


Photo by of citizen journalist John Knefel under arrest in New York City.
Threats to press freedom include attempts to strip back journalistic exemptions under the EU and UK data protection legislation, efforts to water down Freedom of Information legislation, new court reporting restrictions, a review of the D-Notice Committee, strengthening police powers to obtain journalistic material, the use of RIPA powers to uncover journalists' sources, and the continuing campaign to introduce jail sentences for breaches of the Data Protection Act.


Journalists in the UK are also subject to a wide range of legal restrictions which inhibit freedom of expression.


These include the libel laws, official secrets and anti-terrorism legislation, the law of contempt and other legal restrictions on court reporting, the law of confidence and development of privacy actions, intellectual property laws, legislation regulating public order, trespass, harassment, anti-discrimination and obscenity. There is some special provision for journalism and other literary and artistic activities, chiefly intended as protection against prior restraint, in the data protection and human rights legislation.


There are some additional, judicial safeguards requiring court orders or judicial consent before the police can gain access to journalistic material or instigate surveillance in certain circumstances, but, in practice, the law provides limited protection to journalistic material and sources.