Freedom of the Press for Whom? The Question to be Answered in our Critical Juncture

“Freedom of the press for whom?” That was the question that Professor Jerome Barron raised some forty years ago. It was a revolutionary question because in six words it called into question the dominant perception of freedom of the press, as it was commonly understood at the time, and subsequently. It was a brave question too, because it came at a time in which raising such a point was far from popular, and easily misinterpreted and misunderstood. It stepped on very powerful toes. It demanded that we come to terms with the political economy of the media, and deal frankly with the implications of media structures for media content. In many respects, Professor Barron was decades ahead of his time, and all of us today owe him an enormous debt of gratitude for his vision. In this Article, I would like to explain why I think this question is, right now, in the process of being answered. And if it is to be answered in a progressive manner, by the American people and ultimately by the Supreme Court, it will be so done by people standing on Professor Barron’s shoulders.

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