Freedom of the Press Still Matters

Freedom+of+the+Press+Still+Matters

By Thomas Price, Opinion Editor

During President Donald Trump’s inauguration, six journalists were arrested and charged with felony rioting while covering the protests of the president. While the arrests themselves are concerning based on the fact that the journalists were not an active part of the protests, but the precedent this sets is far more worrying. This is not okay or normal, and arresting journalists who are simply doing their jobs is an unacceptable act that must
be addressed.

While Trump’s relationship with the media has not been amicable, to charge journalists with a felony for reporting the news directly violates the First Amendment. It weakens the freedom of the press and expands upon the power of the government and politicians. The media represents the power to shine a light on the actions of  those in charge. And while there are some obvious flaws in popular media, it is an outlet for the truth at a time when such an effort feels noble instead of simply logical. If those who hold power and authority over others cannot be held accountable for their actions, their supremacy increases. This suggests that the constitutional rights that those who came before us fought and died for have lost their value. The protest the journalists were covering was news, and their efforts to break that news and cover it to the best of their ability was severely restricted — they were punished for doing their jobs. When the voices of those who represent the media are censored, we are taking a step in the wrong direction.

This article reaches a much smaller audience than The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, but it represents the freedom that our country still holds dear. My voice, unrestricted, a product of the work by so many people before us. It is an example of a valuable liberty people enjoy on a daily basis. I have the rare privilege of being able to speak my mind and speak out against the powers that be if I see fit. With that privilege also comes the responsibility to continue to honor those who need to exercise that right, now more than ever.

A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Jan. 30 print edition. Email Thomas Price at [email protected]