Expressed through either an editorial cartoonist, columnist or letter to the editor, opinions speak to the way we view public figures and social norms.
Though sometimes humorous, they are often extensively analytical and act as a foundation on which we build our individual beliefs.
Opinions are the precursor of social reform through their ability to unify the community toward a single idea. The freedom to speak freely regarding the actions of our society and its public figures have led to a more open-minded community with increased civil rights.
Through “fair comment” privileges, the press has the freedom to express published opinions regarding well-known figures in the interest of the public. These opinions are based on fact and without actual malicious intent to deliberately do harm or with reckless disregard to accuracy. It’s a fundamental right in the media’s ability to comment on matters of importance to the public.
The right to fair comment reflects an aspect of the role of journalists as community watchdogs and acts as a reminder that the merits of public figures garners criticism based on the responsibility their actions have on the larger society.
The media’s privilege of fair comment and criticism not only protects the journalist under its laws, but also the community whose laws are regulated by public officials. Throughout the extensive history of print journalism, the importance of fair comment has become evident in its role of creating commentary on political corruptness and social injustice.
As a community, we have been given the right to express our beliefs on the actions of one another freely and that right has led to making our country a global leader in democratic thought. Fair comment has made American journalism one of the most free in the world.
It’s the freedom of the media that has historically helped establish the freedoms of the public.