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The question of how much freedom the press should enjoy has been debated throughout American history. In 1942 an impartial commission was formed to study mass communication, evaluate the performance of the media, and make recommendations for possible regulation of the press. This book is the general report of that commission.
The Commission on Freedom of the Press began with the premise that freedom of the press is essential to political liberty; it is unique among the freedoms, for it promotes and protects all the rest. At the same time, the commission feared the concentration of media control into fewer and fewer hands, stating, "It [is] imperative that the great agencies of mass communication show hospitality to ideas which their owners do not share." The commission concluded that any regulation of the media must come from within, not from the government.
1. The Problem and the Principles The Problem The Principles The Principles in the Present Situation
2. The Requirements A Truthful, Comprehensive, and Intelligent Account of the Day's Events in a Context Which Gives Them Meaning A Forum for the Exchange of Comment and Criticism The Projection of a Representative Picture of the Constituent Groups in the Society The Presentation and Clarification of the Goals and Values of the Society Full Access to the Day's Intelligence
3. The Communications Revolution The Instruments The Organization
4. The Performance Scoops and Sensations The Pressure of the Audience The Bias of Owners Advertising and Sales Talk Mutual Criticism The Need and the Performance: Quantity The Need and the Performance: Quality
5. Self-Regulation Self-regulation in Motion Pictures Self-regulation in Radio Self-regulation of Newspapers Books and Magazines Professionalization
6. What Can Be Done What Can Be Done through Government What Can Be Done by the Press What Can Be Done by the Public Appendix: Freedom of the Press: A Summary Statement of Principle Publications of the Commission