Free Press in America: Franklin, Jefferson and Paine

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Duration 01:03:24

Boston University

A former Washington Post and Associated Press journalist, Chris Daly has been teaching courses in the history and techniques of journalism at Boston University for almost 25 years. He is the author of Covering America: A Narrative History of the Nation’s Journalism, as well as many scholarly and popular articles on the history of news. Professor Daly has appeared as an expert in the PBS American Masters documentary “Joseph Pulitzer: Voice of the People.” He writes at and contributes to the Washington Post series “Made by History.”


Free Press in America, What Does It Really Mean?

Since the founding of America, “freedom of the press” has been considered foundational to our democracy. But what does it really mean? In this talk, journalism historian, Chris Daly, examines competing definitions that were current at the nation’s founding and considers the implications of terms like “open press,” “free press,” and partisan press. After a deep dive into the Revolutionary-era press, we will have a chance to see how those founding ideas have played out over centuries of innovation, including radio, television, and the internet.

Recommended Reading for Free Press in America:

  • The Tyranny of Printers: Newspaper Politics in the Early American Republic, by Jeffrey L. Pasley`
  • Emergence of a Free Press, by Leonard W. Levy
  • Freedom of the Press: The First Amendment – Its Constitutional History and the Contemporary Debate, by Garrett Epps and David B. Oppenheimer
  • Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment, by Anthony Lewis

Discussion Questions from Free Press in America:

  1. Is press freedom absolute? If not, why not?
  1. Why were broadcasters treated differently from the print media?
  1. Are there any limits on what is posted on the Internet? Should there be?

Learn More About Free Press in America

Learn more about free press in America by checking out our other history lectures here. Access to all recorded history lectures comes standard with our membership, click here to learn more. Please note: all Livestream (Upcoming) times are in EDT unless otherwise noted.




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