No matter where you live, having a free press supports democracy. It allows citizens to keep informed on the current topics of the day and it also acts as a monitor for the actions of government at all levels. The United States is lucky enough to have the First Amendment that protects free speech and well as the right of the press to report the news without fear of government interference. It was once said "that the press to serve the governed, not the governors. " Other free democratic societies have similar statutes.
In any government that is accountable to the people they serve, freedom of the press is critical. A free media serves as "a watchdog that can investigate and report on government wrongdoing." And while we'd all like to think that our elected officials are honest and do the right thing, we know that's not always the case. Thank goodness, then, for freedom of the press! Journalists, no matter their medium, offer a "vibrant marketplace of ideas, a vehicle for ordinary citizens to express themselves and gain exposure to a wide range of information and opinions."
The rise of national security, as well as the abundance of new surveillance systems, have created challenges for the freedom of media. Government crackdown on whistleblowers, "targeting journalists to find their sources" has reached the highest levels in nearly a century. And in the face of a growing surveillance apparatus, journalists must go to new lengths to protect sources and, by extension, the public’s right to know. When press freedom is harmed, it is much harder to hold our government accountable when it missteps or overreaches. Yet, despite these hurdles, today's journalists continue to fight to bring fair and honest reporting the citizens they serve.
Today, no matter where you live, I suggest that you take a moment to really appreciate what having a free press means. Back in my earliest writing days, I wrote for a couple of Lily Pad newspapers. My articles were mostly "fluff" or human interest pieces, but I realized then how fortunate I was to be able to write what I wanted to without fear of being jailed...or WORSE!
So hats off to the journalists of the world. Today is YOUR day! if you'd like to send a note of thanks to your favorite journalist, please do so and use #HugANewspersonDay to post your thoughts and feelings about these hard-working folks on your social media sites.
Each Friday from now until Easter, I'll be bringing you some fun facts about spring's most popular flowers. We'll start tomorrow with tulips...one of my personal favorites! Until then I wish you