Here in America, freedom of speech is an unalienable right. It is a right granted to us by the Founding Fathers, protected by the U.S. Constitution, and despite the fact that we may not always agree with the media, the media is largely free to report how they see fit.
It is certainly important to note the monopoly mainstream media has enjoyed here in America, but luckily citizens, journalists, whistle-blowers and organizations such as The Franklin Center are fighting every day to break the monopoly of information in today’s news media.
But what would happen if the government censored these stories? Stories exposing government fraud, taxpayer abuse and worse?
One need not look any farther than China and their fight for free speech. It is not uncommon for media outlets and newspaper stories to be largely edited or cut altogether in China and most recently, dissent has exploded over China’s censorship.
After a complete revision of the Southern Weekend’s 2013 New Year’s editorial focusing on China’s dream of democracy to an editorial praising communist rule, journalists and activists alike exploded in protest against the government’s strangle-hold of information.
Rallies, protests, online petitions advocating for freedom of the press have caused widespread public pressure yet despite this, little is expected to change except for a decrease in bravery in reporting the truth.
And what does the lack of freedom of speech equate to in relation to China’s economy?
According to the 2012 Index of Economic Freedom Report, China’s economy is mostly unfree, causing its legal and regulatory system to be vulnerable to political influence and Communist party control and widespread corruption and cronyism.
This lack of economic freedom isn’t just a number: it translates to quality of life. Countries with higher economic freedom enjoy higher incomes, higher life expectancy, lower infant mortality rates, higher life satisfaction rates and increased civil liberties.
Clearly, freedom of the press could play a major role in making China more economically free and a better place to live.
This highlights a critical issue across the world, and a freedom Americans must fight to protect each and every day. As Ronald Reagan famously said, “We didn’t pass freedom to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”
The Franklin Center team of investigative and citizen journalists are proud to carry the torch for freedom – working day and night to detect and expose corruption and incompetence at all levels of government. These journalists are some of the best in the business – fed up with just a few news organizations control over the narrative and working to expose the truth.
And we’re not stopping there. Through the Citizen Watchdog program, concerned citizens are being trained on how to become journalists in their communities. Through this program citizens are empowered to tell stories that the media isn’t or – to be the ones breaking important stories in their community and state.
Let’s all take a moment to be thankful for this right and remember, it is a right we must be careful not to lose.