Jim Romenesko reports, to no one’s surprise, that the public thinks there should be a link between freedom of the press and the quality of news reporting. (Hat tip to Michael Silence via Instapundit.) This becomes relevant again in the context of the Newseek debacle of late.
I can’t say I agree. Newspapers, magazines, broadcasters and bloggers should be free from the risk of prior restraint to report wrong stuff. It would be a nightmare if some agency, whether it were government or otherwise, had to pass on the veracity of reporting before it went to press.
BUT. What the public perceives here is the commonsensical principle that with rights come responsibilities. Call ’em penumbras and emanations, if you don’t know exactly where to find those responsibilities in the First Amendment. And besides the recognition of responsibility, the institutional press would probably do well to stop carping on its insistence of entitlement to special privileges not available to other members of the commonwealth, such as “press shield” laws. Any thought that the media are entitled to such special privileges because they are members of a special caste should be quite dead and rather deeply buried by now.