How Does the First Amendment Affect the Media in the United States? Freedom of the press is one of the five rights guaranteed by the First Amendment. In the United States, the media act as the essential watchdog of government, including not just the federal government but also state and local governments and state-funded institutions. The nation’s founders despised the idea of government-imposed prior restraint or censorship, and major legal decisions over the years have reinforced their idea that it is for the most part unconstitutional.
It is little wonder, then, that so many media professionals were disturbed when Univision journalist Jorge Ramos was ejected from a 2015 political event for presidential candidate Donald Trump in Dubuque, Iowa. When Ramos persistently questioned Trump’s positions on immigration and other issues, a member of Trump’s security team escorted Ramos from the room. Although Trump was not a government official at the time, the incident was widely viewed as an attempt to suppress public discourse and to limit freedom of the press. Truth and accuracy are the most important of the professional news writing standards.
The Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) advises journalists to “seek the truth and report it.” In journalism and all the other media professions, the cardinal rule is to never lie. As journalists have noted through the decades, accuracy means telling the truth and making sure it’s the truth.
That means checking and double-checking the facts, often under considerable deadline pressure. A commitment to truth and accuracy also means establishing context carefully and giving readers all the facts they need to know to fully understand your story.