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EYE-BALL on – “FREEDOM of the PRESS” – what does it really mean?

FREEDOM of the PRESS – what does it really mean?
The understanding of what Freedom of the Press means is universally expressed in the following extract from the Wikipedia website:

Freedom of the PressFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Freedom of the press is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials. While such freedom mostly implies the absence of interference from an overreaching state, its preservation may be sought through constitutional or other legal protections.

With respect to governmental information, any government may distinguish which materials are public or protected from disclosure to the public based on classification of information as sensitive, classified or secret and being otherwise protected from disclosure due to relevance of the information to protecting the national interest. Many governments are also subject to sunshine laws or freedom of information legislation that are used to define the gambit of national interest.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers”

This philosophy is usually accompanied by legislation ensuring various degrees of freedom of scientific research (known as scientific freedom), publishing, press and printing the depth to which these laws are entrenched in a country’s legal system can go as far down as its constitution. The concept of freedom of speech is often covered by the same laws as freedom of the press, thereby giving equal treatment to spoken and published expression.

Besides legal definitions, some non-governmental organizations use other criteria to judge the level of press freedom around the world:

  • Reporters Without Borders considers the number of journalists murdered, expelled or harassed, and the existence of a state monopoly on TV and radio, as well as the existence of censorship and self-censorship in the media, and the overall independence of media as well as the difficulties that foreign reporters may face.
  • The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) uses the tools of journalism to help journalists by tracking press freedom issues through independent research, fact-finding missions, and firsthand contacts in the field, including local working journalists in countries around the world. CPJ shares information on breaking cases with other press freedom organizations worldwide through the International Freedom of Expression Exchange, a global e-mail network. CPJ also tracks journalist deaths and detentions. CPJ staff applies strict criteria for each case; researchers independently investigate and verify the circumstances behind each death or imprisonment.
  • Freedom House likewise studies the more general political and economic environments of each nation in order to determine whether relationships of dependence exist that limit in practice the level of press freedom that might exist in theory. So the concept of independence of the press is one closely linked with the concept of press freedom.

The issue as it has always been – is about how the PRESS take and accept their responsibility – how they maintain standards and own the integrity associated with their profession – how they respect sources and don’t break common laws of decency and legal statute – how the story is never the reason to become corrupted in or by the way the information is obtained.

It is these latter aspects of behaviour where the standards have been deemed to have failed and been abused.

If the PRESS are self-regulating in their endeavour to uphold these standards – who becomes the adjudicator when something like the MURDOCH scandal breaks and it’s revealed it could have been happening for more than a decade – and could very well have been much longer than that.

Murdoch is not the first media Baron to have been caught short – Conrad Black – someone that courted the Fairfax media empire many years ago – he is Canadian and is currently serving a prison sentence for fraud in a US prison.

It took 10 years of legal battles for the US Justice system to finally get him behind bars – the United States v. Conrad Black court case can be read further using this link. What it does prove is that even some of the most respected Media Owners have corrupt capabilities.

Unless this is dealt with and Murdoch is made to pay a price so high – and the penalties so severe – that never again will a Media owner or their staff put their profession in such a position of mistrust.  There has to be ‘some’ absolutes in a world gone crazy on morality and corruption conflicts – this is the opportunity to prune back those who have erred and taken advantage.


The EYE-BALL Opinion …

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