Friday, June 01, 2007

Kevin Demster, junior, Stockton High School, "Why Free News Media Are Important"

Free news media are symbolic with a free nation. A people who do not know what is going on in the world, or even in their own country, are not free. Without free media, a country’s people are limited in their rights and are not truly free-thinking citizens. They are slaves to their government. Just as a standing army is a tool for tyrants, so is a limited news media.

Free news media are important because all people have “unalienable rights,” and it is immoral to take these rights away. Think about how it would be if news media were limited in the United States. The atrocities of tyrants such as Adolph Hitler and Saddam Hussein might have gone unnoticed by the American people. The president may have the power to declare war, but it is the people’s will that forces his hand. Without a catalyst like the American people, we might not have gotten involved in or gotten out of previous war.

Free news media play a vital roll not only war but also in politics. Without free news media, many injustices in Washington, D.C. might have gone unnoticed. Scandals such as Watergate and the Clinton/Lewinsky affair might never have been revealed to the American public. If all politics is local, a free media affects local communities too. When some citizens in Stockton heard (through the local newspaper), the town’s supermarket wanted a liquor license, they petitioned to make their voices heard. They also used their freedom to write letters to the editor. Even though they lost the struggle, and the stores sells alcohol, they used the media to share their ideas. They did not have a dull, chained mindset of a people who are enslaved by their government. They were free to protest.

Recently, a severe ice storm knocked out power for many people in southwest Missouri. When some people were getting their power back on, others were still in the dark. Some people thought the electrical company was acting in a biased way and made their complaints known through the Springfield News-Leader. Others defended the utility company and applauded the workers’ efforts.

Media can change the course of history. Would the American Revolution have even happened without Thomas Paine’s Common Sense? “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered,” wrote Paine, and those words, printed by a free media, inspired people to overthrow the tyranny of the British.

People have a right to know about events, such as the genocide of more than 6 million Jews and about the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II. Many more Americans might have died in the Vietnam War if it had not been televised. People have a right to disagree with the actions of the government, and the world has a right to know about events that affect them.

Free news media are important because they open people’s minds to the events going on in the world, and even in their own backyard; doing so inspires citizens to take action. Letters, newspapers, and television are the tools of free-thinkers, and in fact help people remain free.


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