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Freedom of the Press in American Society

Category: 2017 High School (Grades 9-12)
Student: Juliette Wilder
School: Greenwich High School Greenwich, CT
Teacher: Megan Ostruzka

The unhampered freedom of the press as declared in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution has been monumental in promoting the progression of American society. The Framers of the Constitution were well aware of the impact of the press on American society, understanding that a well-informed electorate is the key to a functioning and stable representative democracy. Mass-media began to make its stamp on American society in the late 19th and early 20th century, where print and radio media began to circulate stories exposing political corruption and societal injustices. This time period, appropriately referred to as the progressive era was dominated by Muckrakers whose exposes led directly to changes in governmental policy, significantly bettering the lives of the American people. A lack of media access is at the core of nations involved in the infringement of the rights of their citizens.

These circumstances are found in North Korea, where citizens' media access is limited to governmental propaganda: Change is nearly impossible as citizens remain in the dark over the lives of those outside of North Korea. This deep-rooted need for totalitarian governments to employ mass-media control further exemplifies a global consensus over the power of the press. As American society ushers in and embraces the digital age, the impact of "new-age" media is dramatically increasing access to the press, however, it has brought forth issues over the reliability of the information presented. The freedom of the press is considered by some to be under attack by the Trump Administration; Trump has declared the press to be an enemy of the American people. A statement of this nature undermines the Framers of the Constitution and the emphasis they placed on the press' importance to citizens by making it an integral part of the 1st Amendment.

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