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A Free and Responsible Press

A General Report on Mass Communication: Newspapers, Radio, Motion Pictures, Magazines, and Books

The question of how much freedom the press should enjoy has been debated throughout American history. In 1942 an impartial commission was formed to study mass communication, evaluate the performance of the media, and make recommendations for possible regulation of the press. This book is the general report of that commission.

The Commission on Freedom of the Press began with the premise that freedom of the press is essential to political liberty; it is unique among the freedoms, for it promotes and protects all the rest. At the same time, the commission feared the concentration of media control into fewer and fewer hands, stating, "It [is] imperative that the great agencies of mass communication show hospitality to ideas which their owners do not share." The commission concluded that any regulation of the media must come from within, not from the government.

147 pages | 5.80 x 8.90 | © 1947

By the Commission on Freedom of the Press

Political Science: American Government and Politics

Table of Contents

1. The Problem and the Principles
The Problem
The Principles
The Principles in the Present Situation
2. The Requirements
A Truthful, Comprehensive, and Intelligent Account of the Day’s Events in a Context Which Gives Them Meaning
A Forum for the Exchange of Comment and Criticism
The Projection of a Representative Picture of the Constituent Groups in the Society
The Presentation and Clarification of the Goals and Values of the Society
Full Access to the Day’s Intelligence
3. The Communications Revolution
The Instruments
The Organization
4. The Performance
Scoops and Sensations
The Pressure of the Audience
The Bias of Owners
Advertising and Sales Talk
Mutual Criticism
The Need and the Performance: Quantity
The Need and the Performance: Quality
5. Self-Regulation
Self-regulation in Motion Pictures
Self-regulation in Radio
Self-regulation of Newspapers
Books and Magazines
6. What Can Be Done
What Can Be Done through Government
What Can Be Done by the Press
What Can Be Done by the Public
Appendix: Freedom of the Press: A Summary Statement of Principle
Publications of the Commission

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