Every Democratic structure must ensure that the fundamental human rights of the citizens are effectively protected. The exercise of the individual freedom without any molestation or hinderance is an essential pillar of democracy. Among such freedoms are freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Under the law, equation treatment is given to spoken and published expressions.
Therefore, the press is an essential ingredient to building strong Democratic systems. Press includes newspapers and news magazines. Also, journalists and photographers who work for newspapers or news magazines are also regarded as press. Press also include all communication and electronic media and published materials from scientific research.
Freedom of the press is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials. It implies the absense of interference from anyone. In any Democratic system, the people have the freedom to enjoy their fundamental human rights among which is the freedom of expression and to access information. The concept of freedom of speech is often covered by the same laws as freedom of press thereby giving equal treatment to spoken and published expression.
The electronic media and newspaper and magazines are major means of communication in the world today and are useful as the vehicle for enlightenment, socialization and sensitization of the people. The universal declaration of human rights states
Importance of Press Freedom
- It does not allow for harassment of journalists thereby hindering them from carrying out their duties.
- It allows the people to have access to informatiom without biases or distortions.
- It does not allow for unhealthy censorship by the government.
- It strengthens the Democratic process.
- It allows the people to be enlightened, and mobilized through the media.
The press have witnessed a lot of molestation from bad government all over the world. Journalists are murdered, expelled or harassed while some are jailed and treated like spies. The existence of state monopoly or the television and radio, as well as censorship and self-censorship in the media have been as infringement on the freedom of the press and their independence over there years.
In 2010, the countries where the press was most free were Finland, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. One of the countries with the least degree of press freedom was Burma.
Research have shown that more than a third of the world’s people live in country where there is no press freedom. Overwhelmingly, these people live in countries where there is no system of democracy or where there are serious deficiencies in their democracy.