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Old Monday, August 19, 2013
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The Universal Declaration of Human Rights indicates:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers"
This philosophy is usually accompanied by legislation ensuring various degrees of freedom of scientific research (known as scientific freedom), publishing, press and printing the depth to which these laws are entrenched in a country's legal system can go as far down as its constitution. The concept of freedom of speech is often covered by the same laws as freedom of the press, thereby giving equal treatment to media and individuals.
Besides said legal environment, some non-governmental organizations use more criteria to judge the level of press freedom around the world. Reporters without Borders considers the number of journalists murdered, expelled or harassed, and the existence of a state monopoly on TV and radio, as well as the existence of censorship and self-censorship in the media, and the overall independence of media as well as the difficulties that foreign reporters may face. Freedom House likewise studies the more general political and economic environments of each nation in order to determine whether relationships of dependence exist that limit in practice the level of press freedom that might exist in theory. So the concept of independence of the press is one closely linked with the concept of press freedom.
The media as a necessity for the government
Elizabeth's notion of the press as the fourth branch of government is sometimes used to compare the press (or media) with Montesquieu's three branches of government, namely an addition to the legislative, the executive and the judicial branches. Edmund Burke is quoted to have said: "Three Estates in Parliament; but in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth estate more important far than they all."
The development of the Western media tradition is rather parallel to the development of democracy in Europe and the United States. On the ideological level, the first pioneers of freedom of the press were the liberal thinkers of the 18th and 19th centuries. They developed their ideas in opposition to the monarchist tradition in general and the divine right of kings in particular. These liberal theorists argued that freedom of press was a right claimed by the individual and grounded in natural law. Thus, freedom of the press was an integral part of the individual rights promoted by liberal ideology. Freedom of the press was (and still is) assumed by many to be a necessity to any democratic society. Other lines of thought later argued in favor of freedom of the press without relying on the controversial.

issue of natural law; for instance, freedom of expression began to be regarded as an essential component of the social contract (the agreement between a state and its people regarding the rights and duties that
each should have to the other).
Freedom of expression has always been emphasized as an essential basis for the democratic functioning of a society. The reasons for this are: the right of an individual to self-fulfillment, which right requires the communication of thought; the importance of constantly attempting to attaint he truth, an attempt which is frustrated if information is suppressed or comment blocked; the inherent democratic right to participate in decision-making, which obviously implies the freedom to obtain, communicate and discuss information,; and the practical importance of maintaining the precarious balance between healthy cleavage and the necessary consensus.
A further dimension to the freedom of expression is added by the existence of mass society in which communication among citizens can take place only through the use of media like the Press and broadcasting and not directly, except in a limited way. With State monopoly over broadcasting which prevails both technical and financial, the importance of the Press is even more crucial.
Our actual experience since Independence, and especially in the last decade or so, also suggests that a free and vigilant Press is vital to restrain corruption and injustice at least to the extent that public opinion can be roused as a result of press investigations and comments. Recently a number of injustices and wrongdoings have been uncovered as a result of the initiative taken by newspapers. Whether it is the question of various types of bonded labour in different parts of the country, the misuse of powers or the existence of smuggling rackets for example on the West Coast, newspapers have served a very useful purpose by exposing them. The fear that the Press will expose such wrong-doing is a major restraint on potential wrong-doers.

Who Threatens Freedom? Owners Structure
Having accepted that the freedom of the Press is of vital importance especially in our contest, the question arises: is this freedom threatened and, if so, by whom? It has been frequently alleged, especially in India, that the freedom of the Press is in danger because of the ownership of the newspaper industry and the predominance of some newspaper groups and chains. It is also suggested that the editors and journalists cannot have adequate freedom of collecting and disseminating facts and offering comments as they are under the pressure of the capitalist owners. It is further pointed out that free collection and dissemination of facts is not possible in the case of newspapers which depend to a large extent on revenue from advertisements as the advertising interests cannot but influence the presentation of news and comments. Unless this whole structure of ownership and control in the newspaper industry, and also the manner of the economic management of the Press, is changed, it is therefore suggested, the Press cannot be really free.
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