Bleeding the Black ink

Media and the government

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Thomas Jefferson was a strong proponent of a free press -- until he became president and then he charged "the artillery of the press has been leveled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare."

Thus defined the relationship between the media and government in the United States.

It can be adversarial relationship in which the media play the role of watchdog.

In the last 30 years, that adversarial relationship has intensified with stories such as Watergate and the Pentagon Papers, which brought about a change in how the public views government as it relates to the press

Watergate became a national incident that put the concept of open government to the test. The Washington Post's work also led to the idea that citizens, armed with information, could establish their own watchdog groups as to keep tabs on government.

The Pentagon Papers, in which the New York Times and the Washington Post to publish government documents regarding the United States' activities in Vietnam, led to the first incident in which the government attempted to censor the press.

The case went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court where justices ruled in favor of the New York Times and the documents were published.

The court victory continues to ripple through the press-government relationship today.

On a much smaller scale but equally as important, community journalism has the same responsibility in holding local governments accountable.

The same media, however, also must be held accountable for how it reports

the news.

The Craig Daily Press will continue to uphold its obligation to follow issues of importance to the public and investigate issues whether they become a story or not.

"Bleeding the Black Ink" is a weekly column that aims at getting readers better acquainted with the Craig Daily Press. Do you have a question or an issue for an upcoming column? Call Terrance Vestal at 824-7031 or email him at tvestal@craigdailypress.com.

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