So you think the press is free

July 4th is Independence Day in the USA, a national holiday. Freedom of the press is an important part of the Constitution of the United States enshrined in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.

You might think because of the First Amendment that the press will always be free. Think again.

There are those at work today who would like the government to nationalize the news media much like they did the banks and auto industry. They base their ideas on the oft referred to “crisis in journalism” happening with the demise of many great newspapers, the closing of many national magazines, and the decrease of advertising revenue to support the same.

A few politicians and many socialistic leaning activists in places of power in Washington DC are suggesting the government subsidize journalism with tax credits and cash grants because the “capitalist media” has failed. They want to enslave journalists to the state so they can maintain a free press. That’s kind of like cutting down the trees to save the forest; doesn’t make any sense.

Take a look at what the government has done with the banks and the aut industry after giving them some bailout money. They now tell the banks who to make loans to and how to structure the wages of their CEOs. After handing a few billion dollars to the auto industry, a couple of faceless government appointed bureaucrats arbitrarily shut down certain automobile dealerships – many of which were well managed and profitable. Now they are dictating union wages and what kind of cars the auto companies are to build. It’s a simple principle: The government controls whatever it subsidizes.

If you don’t like what The New York Times prints or what you hear on the nightly news or what is broadcast on talk radio – imagine how much you’ll enjoy the Big Government News Service giving you all the news THEY decide that’s fit to print.

Who do you trust more to give you the news – your local TV stations and newspapers that have deep roots in your community (the “capitalist media”) or the current party in control of Washington D.C., your state legislature or the governor’s office?

Who do you think is more likely to give you reliable reports of what’s really happening in the halls of congress or at the White House – reporters who are appointed and paid for by the present ruling political party (it’s the Democrats now but could soon be Republicans), or skeptical journalists who are free to gather information, ask probing questions, seek verification, and write fearlessly about what they find?

Don’t be lulled to sleep – the free press is under attack in America and the foes are using clever language to hide their agenda. Beware of those who want to make the Internet a “public utility” and who whine about “media capitalists”. They want government control of your Internet provider, they want to regulate the programming on your favorite talk-radio station, oversee what’s broadcast on the 24-hour cable news stations, and regulate what’s published in newspapers. Doesn’t sound like a free press to me.
Beware of high-minded sounding projects to “Save the News” ( and be skeptical of those who endorse regulations on the media and who propose tax credits and government funding that will allegedly move America “Toward a National Journalism Strategy” (

The only national journalism strategy we need is to maintain the wall of separation between the government and the various ways news is researched, reported and consumed.

And one more thing…subscribe to and support your local newspaper. They are on the front lines in the battle for a free press.

Dr. Ross is the co-author of the ONLY book written for aspiring and active citizen journalists - Handbook for Citizen Journalists.