Media freedom (could be) people freedom

A news item getting worldwide coverage this week was a ranking of press freedoms in 179 countries placing the United States 47th, tied with Romania.

Everyone across the political spectrum in America should be able to agree that our freedom of speech is a cherished right and that we don’t want to be outdone by a nation separated from communist domination by less than a quarter of a century.

In fact, it’s not good enough that the USA merely crack the top 25 in next year’s ranking. We should have the freest media in the world.

I have an idea.

Our constitutional freedom of speech guarantees on both the federal and state levels include a term that has created some confusion we need to clear up in order to better protect our freedoms. The term is freedom of the press.

The Kentucky and United States Constitutions were written at a time in which the cutting edge communications technology of the day was a printing press. Employees of media corporations sometimes claim their profession is the only one protected by the Constitution. This is clearly not accurate. If the internet, television, radio or even telephones existed in the late 18th century, it is certain the word “press” wouldn’t be found in either document or the other technologies would be included as well.

To update and clarify free speech rights in the United States we need to change our definitions of “media” and “press” to include all individuals, since we all have broadcast capabilities our founding fathers could not even imagine.

Click here to read proposed legislation for Kentucky.  Our state law does not include a “press exemption” or “media exemption” such as that used on the federal level to create special rights for media corporations, so a federal solution would be a little more involved. But it is worth the effort to protect our sacred freedoms. If you agree, please forward this post widely.