A Free Press Doesn't Mean Free Newspapers

Editor of the Irish Times, Geraldine Kennedy, thinks the Internet poses an existential threat to the freedom of the press because it jeopardizes newspapers’ solvency. Kennedy’s remark comes at a time when many are beginning to realize that free information and a free press make bad bedfellows.

Related to the media’s financial crisis is its crisis of credibility. Many do not see major news producers as the enlightened authority they once were. Private as well as government public-relations machines see the media as their own territory—an extension of their own PR campaigns rather than a neutral body acting in the public interest.

It is difficult to criticize the public’s lack of faith in major news producers when, partly as a result of an infinitely shortening news cycle, the media so often report information given to them by an official source, typically in the guise of a press release, as the story itself.

I have seen newsrooms growing littered with press releases while reporters type furiously to post stories early and often—rather than drafting their own narrative of events—in accordance with the public craving for instant news.

The media’s failure to hold authorities accountable during the run-up to the Iraq War must be one of the most staggering failures of the much-idealized free press. Facts the media didn’t get to at the time are coming out in the UK’s official inquiry into the Iraq War. (A free Iraqi press seems very much in question, by the way.)

Various solutions to the ongoing newspaper crisis, which has seen many regional papers go under and many national ones hemorrhage money, are being floated. However, it seems there is less focus on narrowing the credibility gap.

In recognition of the tension between profit and public interest, numerous non-profit ventures have been proposed as a means of resuscitating the news industry. From government-subsidized reporting to NGO-funded news production, more strings are being attached to a once-free press.

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

Orangutans exhibit awareness of the past

Orangutans join humans and bees in a very exclusive club

(Eugene Sim/Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • Orangutan mothers wait to sound a danger alarm to avoid tipping off predators to their location
  • It took a couple of researchers crawling around the Sumatran jungle to discover the phenomenon
  • This ability may come from a common ancestor
Keep reading Show less

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
Keep reading Show less

Understand your own mind and goals via bullet journaling

Journaling can help you materialize your ambitions.

  • Organizing your thoughts can help you plan and achieve goals that might otherwise seen unobtainable.
  • The Bullet Journal method, in particular, can reduce clutter in your life by helping you visualize your future.
  • One way to view your journal might be less of a narrative and more of a timeline of decisions.
Keep reading Show less