Freedom of the Press Is for Online Journalists Too

Last week, more than 300 newspapers all over the country recommitted to the basic tenets of a free press and community service through journalism. At Third Coast Review, we thought it was important to take this same stand and point out that writers for online media are journalists too. We are thus bound to and supported by the First Amendment. Here’s my essay.

“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” The famously acerbic journalist, A.J. Liebling, wrote that in the New Yorker in 1960. Although that may well have been true in 1960, today we are journalists without owning a press.

On August 16, more than 300 U.S. newspapers joined in editorial harmony to state vehemently that a free press is essential to America’s democracy and to counter the ridiculous and hateful statements of the current occupant of the White House. (Do I have to say his name?)

Initiated by the Boston Globe, the event was joined in by major metro dailies such as the Houston Chronicle and the New York Times, both Chicago dailies and the suburban Daily Herald and many smaller city newspapers all over the state and the country, such as the Durango (Colo.) Herald, the Kokomo (Ind.) Tribune and the Ripon (Wis.) Commonwealth Press. You can read the New York Times editorial and quotes from many of the 350 newspapers here.

We applaud the comments of all these important newspapers, large and small. We particularly liked this excerpt from the Sun-Times editorial:

“We are the enemy of nothing but ‘thoughts and prayers’ when children are slaughtered. We are the enemy of faked-up outrage.

“We are the friend of the teacher who never gives up, of the small business owner who hires ex-offenders, of the bus driver who makes every last stop, of the architect who designs a beautiful building, and of the bricklayer and ironworker who build it.

“We are the friend of an open lakefront, a clean Chicago River, excellent middle linebackers and deep-dish pizza.

“Above all, we are the enemy of bad journalism, and we commit ourselves each day to practicing the best journalism. We do our best to tell our city’s story, the sum total of every Chicagoan’s story, straight and fair, come what may.”

We want to point out that online news media also support and value the press freedom guarantee of the First Amendment. Our fellow online media—such as our friends at Block Club Chicago, the Beachwood Reporter, Reddit Chicago, and possibly Chance’s reborn Chicagoist—all benefit by the First Amendment. You may not think of this when you read our pop music reviews, our commentary on storefront theater, our videogame reviews and Third Coast Today, our regular news feature. But like our online colleagues, we are beneficiaries of the First Amendment and we damn well will publish whatever we think is important for our readers to know. And no government agency—should they know or care what we write about—will stop us. Not the city, or the police department, the county, the state of Illinois or any government agency. If Third Coast Review is ever silenced, it will be because of lack of funds or lack of support.

So as the Boston Globe and the New York Times requested, read and subscribe to your local newspaper. And read and share your local arts and culture site, Third Coast Review.

And I’ll add here, please read, share and support your local bloggers and other writers who comment on matters political and personal. Share their posts, comment on their sites and donate a few bucks if you can.

7 Comments on “Freedom of the Press Is for Online Journalists Too”

  1. Melinda Power says:

    Thank you Nancy.


  2. You are on the right track, dear Nancy. The same problem has popped up over here, but is not yet discussed too much in public. Hopefully your initiative will nourish activities like this (what The Boston Globe and others did, and what you and your colleagues did).


    • nancysbishop says:

      Thanks, Marianne. So good to hear from you. Germany is one of the top 20 countries in the press freedom index (Reporters Without Borders), but these freedoms are always under attack. In the U.S., the attacks are vicious and continuous.


  3. splendidcakes says:

    Beautifully and powerfully said, as always. Thank you.


  4. naomi stern says:

    As always you are a wonderful writer. The cause of suporting modes of free expression is never won forever. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Roxane Assaf-Lynn says:

    I echo Naomi Stern’s remark. “…never won forever.” But it’s gratifying when the members of the press look inward, join hands, declare what we/they stand for. Alas, it takes a tyrant. As is often the case, a common enemy bands people together, reminding them of their unity of purpose. In gentler times (but isn’t it hard to call the preceding period “gentle”?), the mainstream media were narcotized by political allegiance and corporate backing. These are the same folks who announced the election results as “shocking” because they were asleep at the wheel. Or maybe they weren’t sleeping, but they only drove around in their own little neighborhood. Nancy, thanks for keeping your eyes on the prize. We know they’ll still tow the line for the US/Israel alliance, crafting absolute fantasy where the Palestinians are concerned, but then, so will most liberals who dedicate themselves to progressive politics who aren’t news reporters. We’re only as good as the people we serve. Thank you for your good voice on the topic of this media action, Nancy.

    Liked by 1 person

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