The News Media: A Titan With Titanic Rights And Responsibilities

2373 words - 9 pages

The News Media: A Titan With Titanic Rights and Responsibilities
The news media has power, rights, and responsibilities that are sometimes underestimated in the public. This makes the news media extremely important in the U.S. This importance comes from the rights and responsibilities that shape how the public is informed and how the public is influenced by the presentation of the information. The rights were given throughout time and have been revised to the point where there is a fine line as to what any news media outlets can publish and share with society. The responsibilities were basically attained throughout time as the news media started to form into a bigger more regular part of life. Even today the news media keeps growing and has an influence that is almost not even comparable to anything else. The news media has its fine line for rights, but it has two major responsibilities, which are to inform the public and to influence the public opinion.
The rights of the news media in the U.S. were outlined when the Bill of Rights was written. This right was shown in the 1st amendment as the freedom of the press. This can be interpreted many ways. The most common way to interpret this right is that the government cannot regulate what the news media outlets can publish even though some people may disagree with that. Non-governmental regulation basically states that the news media outlets can publish whatever they like.
L. B. Sullivan attempted to sue the New York Times Co. during 1964 and that case had to be
reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court after passing the Alabama Supreme Court. This was one of the biggest cases that set the limit as to what the news media can publish.
New York Times had published an advertisement named “Heed Their Voices” which defended Martin Luther King Jr. against an Alabama perjury indictment. This advertisement incorrectly stated actions by the police. In the case documents, the Mr. Justice Bernnan stated, “ Dr. King had not been arrested seven times, but only four…”(New). This showed how the New York Times Co. had incorrectly printed information that could have led to “actual malice”. During this time L. B. Sullivan was the Public Safety commissioner and was in charge of supervising the police department. Sullivan felt that this advertisement caused harm to him and he decided to sue the New York Times.
The decision was completely favored toward the New York Times Co., 9-0, but the Supreme Court did make a decision that would draw the line referring to what the news media can print. This “line” was that the news media outlets are allowed to print what ever they want and if one wants to sue the said news media outlet, there must be proof of actual malice. In effect the news media outlets are not truly allowed to print or say anything that is obvious that will prove to be actual malice.
Another court case that established the line for the press was Sheppard v. Maxwell. This case was one that did not include...

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