Freedom of the press can sometimes be taken too far

By on March 1, 2006

Freedom of the press is perhaps one of the most influential forms of expression. With the provision of this freedom, people within the journalistic field express themselves through an outlet in which ideas and feelings can exist in the forms of print, broadcast, and digital. And by practicing this freedom, journalists have the capability to express what is exactly on their minds within a form that can be supplied to members of the public. And journalists continue to do so in an attempt to keep their subscribers in the know of what is going on around them.

However, journalists also have the tendency to use this freedom in a more inappropriate manner by addressing an idea that can be damaging towards a specific group of people or idea. And if this is the case, then it seems that members of the journalistic field are taking their freedom for granted.

In fall of 2005, different cartoons were published in Danish newspapers that depicted the Muslim population and religion in a not-so-flattering way. One such cartoon depicted the prophet Mohammed wearing a turban that clearly resembled an ignited bomb.

Needless to say, the Islamic community was less than thrilled over these publications as they protested over the offensive nature of the cartoon and that the founder of their religion was being depicted in an offensive manner.

And, as the months went by, the cartoon started appearing in newspapers in other countries including Italy, German, and France. This only intensified the protesting of the Muslim community as death threats and diplomatic sanctions have been occurring.

Even though the Islamic community has been expressing their opinions of their disgust towards the cartoon, members of the mass media are claiming that nothing is wrong with the publication of these cartoons. Throughout the course of the cartoons’ publication, they are most likely standing by their argument that the cartoons are protected by the ever-present freedom of the press. However, their determination to defend this particular freedom has only caused the Islamic community to continue with their protests as they have intensified immensely over the past few weeks.

But, is this the most appropriate way to promote the concept of freedom of the press? By mass-producing this cartoon, people within the journalistic field are strongly showcasing just how much freedom that they possess. People in the media should be very careful of what they publish, especially the actions that are being made are being taken during a time period in which people are afraid of the slightest terrorist threat.

With this concept in mind, people within the journalism field need to know that they have to have restrictions. One thing they should keep in mind is that they should know who their audience is. Journalists should also be aware of the outcomes that could be a result of a cartoon that is intended to poke fun at an idea. Since the Islamic community carry their religion with high regard, it might be wise to not take such an extreme angle when publishing an illustration such as this one.

But what is important to think about is the entire concept of freedom of the press. With the continued publication of the cartoon, it could appear as though people within the journalistic field are merely emphasizing the high amount of freedom that they possess.

However, with the cartoon causing much unrest among the Islamic community, one should start contemplating whether or not the press can indeed go too far. And, since people are always on high-alert for any signs of terrorism, people should think twice about instigating a group of people such as the Islamic community.

While I do take a cautious stance towards the publication of this cartoon, I am completely in favor of freedom of the press. The context of a written article has always been the perfect outlet for voicing concerns in regards to different social issues and concerns. I also feel that getting people to think about the issues in a creative manner- in this case, a political cartoon- is a fine idea. However, the freedom of the press should be used in a manner in which it is used responsibly. After all, people within the journalistic field are in the profession to ethically provide information to the public. For great freedom of the press comes with great responsibility.


About Nate Sharir