Free Essay. the Role of a Free Press in the United States Political System

Published: 2023-03-24
Free Essay. the Role of a Free Press in the United States Political System
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Politics United States Media
Pages: 5
Wordcount: 1218 words
11 min read

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which is a constituent of the Bill of Rights, set a ratifying precedent on the limits and powers of the Press. It empowered the Fourth Estate in its mandate to the citizens, which was timely considering the intricacy of the American Political System (Witze, 2008). The United States hosts a very diverse electorate with a political system that comprises of a Federal Government and different states. It is further aggravated by the fact that the country uses an electoral college to elect its President. The powers and roles of the two chambers of congress mean that the direct involvement of the public is further limited to party primaries and general elections (Maisel, 2016). A free press is thereby considered very crucial in disseminating relevant and essential information to its citizens while ensuring accountability on the part of elected and appointed leaders.

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The Press has a significant role, especially during elections, as it can easily influence public opinion regarding a particular candidate (Klein, 2017). It is because the American Constitution does not limit politicians on expenditures during campaigns. Politicians are known to buy broadcasting time hosted by the free press to convey their ideologies to the general public. The free press thereby has the responsibility to ensure that this freedom is not biased to allow the transmission of evil agendas to the electorate (Donohue, Tichenor & Olien, 2018). It is a test of balance for the free press to support free speech by individual candidates and also ensure correct and factual information is passed to the public. It will assist in ensuring the election of the right candidates into government.

Clementson (2019) insists that the free press has the right to question the credibility of both candidates and elected officials once they get into government. It can be seen through covering the political debates held for the primaries and the general elections. The press provides a platform where the electorate can directly or indirectly question the said individuals on different policy matters (Ireland & Edelman, 2017). It allows citizens to be able to understand the intentions of their perceived preferred candidates. Through airing of policy debates in the legislature, the free press provides an avenue for the citizens to monitor the actions of their elected officials and be also to follow carefully the subsequent steps and decisions taken by the leaders. The Free press should thereby ensure objectivity in covering such stories so that biasness does not cloud the message.

A free press helps to increase transparency in service delivery, which is applicable in the three arms in government. The presidency and the executive are put accountable to the public (Perloff, 2013). All decisions undertaken by members of the executive are subjected to public scrutiny or even the media houses conduct their investigation on suspicions of a concealed scandal involving public resources. The laws and amendments passed by the different houses are always highlighted in the various media platforms so that citizens can hold the members of the congress accountable to any retrogressive or selfish laws they might pass. A free press thereby acts as a source of crucial information and thus decreases risks of corruption and prevents injustices to the public (Donohue, Tichenor & Olien, 2018).

Furthermore, the free press is supposed to highlight cases of criminal injustices or the leaks in the criminal justice system in the country. It, therefore, helps tackle matters such as racism, religion, sexuality, gender quality, among others which play a vital role in American democracy. The handling of such issues in the criminal justice system and by the different state laws play a significant role, especially during elections. The free press should ensure the accuracy and exhaustion of such cases where injustice occurs on there is an infringement on the rights of a particular group of people (Fox, Sickel & Steiger, 2007).

Finally, the free press should actively participate in ensuring the sustenance of the sovereignty of the country. It should be done by encouraging patriotism and scrutinizing and uncovering all decisions or any secret decision in which the White House, being the lead Diplomat, undertakes with other nations. The character of any person holding the position of the Presidency should be truth tested to ensure that the interests of the American people come first. It is particularly crucial since historically, most Presidents have taken antagonizing positions against the media and even individual journalists. The Free Press should owe its allegiance to the country, the truth, and the electorate.

The execution of freedom in the Press has not been without challenges. The free press faces a myriad of drawbacks that hinders a complete unbiased delivery in its mandate. Some of these challenges emanate from the internal organization while others from external factors. For instance, the rise of fabricated news and stories has been on the rise ever since the inception of the internet. Falsified information leads to reduced credibility and confidence in the press. It is dangerous, especially on sensitive matters that might affect the public. According to Lee (2005), this situation could provide a loophole for perpetrators of corruption to use since the public would lack confidence in communicated reports.

Another infamous threat is the outright bashing and demonization of the free press by various government officials, including the president. An example is when Richard Nixon railed against the Washington Post for its reporting on the Watergate Scandal (Klein, 2017). Several examples can be seen even currently through the open remarks made by President Trump through the series of tweets he puts out against the Press. Lee (2015) explains that the erosion of media ultimately leads to a weakened democratic system. Worthy to note is that some readers consider the news that only adheres to their political outfits and ideologies. It could limit the impact which the Free Press aims to make.

Conclusively, a free press is the source of unbiased information and the community watchdog of government affairs. The independence of the press should thus be protected to ensure that the political system is held accountable to its citizens, and appointed leaders serve and deliver their mandates openly and transparently. It will be able to improve the confidence in the compelling democracy that is the United States.


Clementson, D. E. (2019). Why Won't You Answer the Question? Mass-Mediated Deception Detection After Journalists' Accusations of Politicians' Evasion. Journal of Communication. doi:10.1093/joc/jqz036

Donohue, G. A., Tichenor, P. J., & Olien, C. N. (2018). A Guard Dog Perspective on the Role of Media. The Media, Journalism and Democracy, 21-38. doi:10.4324/9781315189772-3

Fox, R. L., Sickel, R. W., & Steiger, T. L. (2007). Tabloid Justice: Criminal Justice in an Age of Media Frenzy. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Pub.

Ireland, D., & Edelman, M. (2017). Presidential Campaigns: Press, Polls, Packaging. The Selection and Election of Presidents, 107-116. doi:10.4324/9781315134833-7

Klein, L. A. (2017). A free press is necessary for a strong democracy. ABA Journal. Retrieved from

Lee, T. (2005). The Liberal Media Myth Revisited: An Examination of Factors Influencing Perceptions of Media Bias. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 49(1), 43-64. doi:10.1207/s15506878jobem4901_4

Maisel, L. S. (2016). 5. Presidential elections: Nominating campaigns and general elections. Very Short Introductions. doi:10.1093/trade/9780190458164.003.0005

Perloff, R. M. (2013). Political Communication: Politics, Press, and Public in America. London, England: Routledge.

Witze, A. (2008). US election: Questioning the candidates. Nature, 455(7212), 446-449. doi:10.1038/455446

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