Freedom of the Press

Freedom of the press is a right guaranteed in the Constitution, along with freedom of religion, freedom of assembly and so on. Interpretation of these rights have entered many gray areas these days, and sometimes can lead to the violation of rights Americans are guaranteed.

This is not new, however; America has been notorious for violating explicitly the rights of certain people throughout its history. Thus, it becomes necessary to determine the specific boundaries between guaranteeing people the rights they are promised and denying them those same rights.

The recent protests at the University of Missouri are a perfect example of attempting to define these boundaries.

Upon entering the demonstrations, Tim Tai, a photographer and member of the student body, met with hostility from protesters who confronted his presence there as a reporter. Several protesters tried to remove Tai from the demonstration by encircling him and blocking him from taking photos of the event. Eventually, the protestors marched towards him, forcing him away from the demonstrations.

Tai claimed throughout the entire confrontation that he had the right to be at the protest while the protestors claimed they had a right to their “space.”

Where does that boundary exist, then, between the freedom of the press and the freedom of assembly? Tai did not threaten or attempt to break up the protests, as governments across the world repeatedly do on a regular basis with bullets and tear gas. Did his presence alone thus threaten their protest?

The answer is no. The press is just in covering events such as protests and assemblies, and to deny them the liberty to cover such events under the veil of security is foolish. Though, the protestors claimed Tai infringed upon their rights, they infringed upon his own right, as well as the First Amendment-guaranteed freedom of the press. The protestors had the right to assemble, and this should not be infringed upon. Yet, Tai did not infringe upon this right by taking pictures and reporting what exactly was going on.

The relations between freedom of the press and freedom of assembly should be that the right to report what is happening should not be met with hostility by those exercising the right to assemble. How else is a democracy expected to function if assemblies of any sort actively deny any kind of press coverage?

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