World Press Day
May 3 is World Press Day, a UNESCO-sponsored day to recognize the importance of freedom of the press around the world. In the United States, the democratic idea of a free press is a tradition dating back to colonial times. Colonists used the press to communicate and share ideas through letters, pamphlets, and other publications. An early precedent was set in 1735 with the trial of John Zenger, a publisher who was accused of printing articles critical of the colonial governor. Reasoning that the basis of Zenger's criticisms was factual, the jury found him not guilty. This commitment to upholding the rights of the press was later enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Recent criticisms of the media have led many to question the accuracy and credibility of news reporting. Historically, court cases that have questioned the scope of the free press have determined what is permissible to publish. A look back at some of these pivotal cases can shed light on the long-valued tradition of the free press.
Use the Instruction and Background Resources in the drop-down menu on the left to guide students' library or classroom research into the history of the free press. The Instruction includes activities to deepen student analysis of the related primary and secondary sources. The video provides an introduction to this topic. The articles offer additional perspectives, including background on the origins and development, and the primary sources include documents and images that illustrate the debate around free press.
"World Press Day." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/2076550. Accessed 23 Aug. 2019.
Entry ID: 2076550