Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Why Free News Media Are Important - 1st place entry

“Why Free News Media Are Important”
1st place entry in 2008 SPJ Student Essay Contest - Southwest Missouri
By Rachel Holcomb, homeschooled, Strafford, Mo.

You wake up in the morning to your alarm clock, roll out of bed, shuffle to the front door, peek out to make sure no one is out there to see you, dash out to grab the morning newspaper, and slam the door behind you. You then try to accomplish the extremely difficult task of reading the paper and walking to the kitchen - at the same time.

You have now had your first exposure to free news media.

Next, after finally making it to the kitchen, you turn on the small TV on the counter to watch the morning news while you make a pot of coffee.

You have now had your second exposure to free news media.

After the news is over, you run back to the bedroom and get ready for the day, then sail out of the house and into your SUV to go to work. As you sit at a red light, you turn on the radio, and –

You have now had your third exposure to free news media.

Within an hour or two of getting out of bed in the morning, the average American has been exposed to free news media multiple times.

What do free news media allow? They allow us to get news and other information that is largely free of government influence. They allow us to state our opinions freely without fear of repercussions. They allow us to have a say in matters of importance.

Why are they important to us? They are important because having a free media means that we are not getting a biased opinion on everything. The government does not filter everything we hear; we are able to hear more than one side of a story.

What would it be like to not have free news media? Picture yourself in a country where the government filters everything. Any news (such as a car chase, a big storm down on the coast, the way the President dealt with a certain situation) would be the government’s side of the story. All the information you received would be the government’s opinion. You would receive only one view on everything. Because you might have the police come to your front door to take you to jail for opposing the government, you would not be able to state your opinions freely. The government would dictate everything. This would be a country without free news media. We do not want that to happen to our country.

So, what do free media mean to America? Free media mean that the government does not filter the news we receive – we do not get a biased opinion on everything; they mean that we can state our opinions freely without fear of repercussions; they mean that we have a say in matters of importance.

We, as American people, need to protect our rights to free news media.


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