Banal Documentaries
Chomsky Film
Domain of Demands
Emporer Penguin Evolution
Lottery Life
Peace School

Personality & Classification
Police Interrogations
Press Ethics
Stun Guns
Suicide Bombers
Target Civilians
The Criminal/The Military
Time Memory
Ways of Life
A Good One of Those

Press Ethics

Whenever journalists mention their special relationship to the democracy, as was done in a recent essay in these pages, it seems important to point out that the relationship is contingent. The nature of the contingency would be clearer if, instead of using the D word, they referred to the relationship between information of self governance.

The premise for Constitutional recognition of the press function is the need of the people to have sufficient information to govern themselves. Every time I write a sentence like this it takes my breath away, because at the time of the founding nothing like this existed anywhere on the planet -- or ever had. Imagine a group of politicians today suggesting a plan with such a pedigree.

The distinction has a bearing on the substance of free speech because over the centuries strong arguments have been made that the guarantee applies only to that sort of speech needed by the people to govern themselves, which means that junk like pornography is not included.

That debate pretty much ended a few decades ago, but it left behind some consequences for the press, some corners of which now believe that because the content of what they publish is constitutionally protected. the press as an institution is serving the constitutional purpose.















©Al Katz • Prof. of law SUNY, Buffalo, 1969-1989 (ret.)