Stop the presses – permanently.
That’s what’s happening to newspapers around the country. The 150-year-old Rocky Mountain News is the latest in a growing list of out-of-print newspapers. You can watch the mounting death toll at Newspaper Death Watch.
Who cares? Why care?
Does it matter that print newspapers are going out of business? Does it matter to you that your town may not have a hometown newspaper?
This week on OurValues.org, we’ll chronicle the values questions related to the demise of newspapers:
What values do newspapers embody?
What values do they represent?
What values are imperiled by the loss of newspapers?
I’ll begin by citing James Madison’s first draft of the speech and press clauses of what became the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This version is the clearest expression of the values he had in mind: ”The people shall not be deprived or abridged of their right to speak, to write, or to publish their sentiments; and the freedom of the press, as one of the great bulwarks of liberty, shall be inviolable.”
Madison’s language was revised by compromise and committee, and eventually combined with the freedom of religion and of peaceful assembly to become the amendment ratified in 1791: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Are the values Madison had in mind threatened by the loss of newspapers? What other values are at stake?
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