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[personal profile] dogriver
Over the last number of years, I've heard the term "freedom of the press" invoked many times by the media, meaning a whole lot of things. When the government doesn't invite the media everywhere the media wants to go, the media cry foul, saying that freedom of the press is being violated. When the government doesn't release all the information to the media that it wants, the media make the same claim. I've even heard one media person say, and this is not a direct quote, "no one should lay a hand on another person [this was in reference to the alleged bodyslamming that took place a few weeks ago in the United States], especially a member of the media," as if freedom of the press gives media people an extra degree of protection from physical violence that the average person doesn't and shouldn't have."

So what does freedom of the press mean? Does it grant the media rights to go where it wants, to see what it wants, and to be even more protected from harm than the rest of us? Not in Canada, certainly, where all the above claims have been made. Canada has freedom of the press, certainly. But, lest you members of the media think this grants you special powers, all you're guaranteed is the right to express your opinions in the press. For that matter, it gives me, and any other lowly mortals the right to express our opinions in the press too. So the next time the government doesn't invite the media to an event and you have to dig for a story like your foreparents did before you, or next time they won't just hand you the document you want, or next time you and the fellow next to you gets a black eye and you want more protection than the other guy, don't invoke freedom of the press. It doesn't apply. If you want to express the opinion that you've been hard done by, though, that you can do, your freedom of the press guarantees it.

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Bruce Toews

June 2017

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