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Introduction: Rethinking Freedom of Expression and Media Freedom

Chapter in book
Authors Eva-Maria Svensson
Andrew T. Kenyon
Maria Edström
Published in Blurring the Lines, Market-Driven and Democracy-Driven Freedom of Expression - Maria Edström, Andrew T. Kenyon & Eva-Maria Svensson (eds.)
Pages 9-18
ISBN 978-91-87957-36-9
Publisher Nordicom
Place of publication Göteborg
Publication year 2016
Published at Department of Journalism, Media and Communication (JMG)
Department of Law
Pages 9-18
Language en
Keywords Market-Driven Freedom of expression, Democracy-Driven Freedom of Expression, journalism, advertising, regulation, self regulation, media
Subject categories Law, Media and Communications


FROM THE INTRODUCTION: Freedom of expression is an essential part of democracy, and free speech goes hand in hand with a free media. Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the American Declaration of Independence, wrote in 1816: “Where the press is free and every man able to read, all is safe” (Jefferson 1816/1900). And as emphasized in the UK’s Leveson report earlier this decade, “With these rights, however, come responsibilities to the public interest: to respect the truth, to obey the law and to uphold the rights and liberties of individuals. In short, to honour the very principles proclaimed and articulated by the industry itself ” (Leveson 2012:4). Although the principle of free speech could be said to remain largely the same over time, the conditions for free speech and free media do not; they are certainly not the same as when Jefferson made his statement. Today the conditions are more democratic overall and the level of state censorship is lower (at least in parts of the world), concerns about state surveillance notwithstanding. However, the market pressure on media financing models and market-driven ideas that suggest the state should not ‘interfere’ in the media ecology makes journalism more vulnerable and less independent from commercial interests. It is these changing conditions of state and market that this book explores. We seek to make it at least a little more difficult to discuss free speech without addressing such contemporary conditions. //From a Nordic perspective, the theme is highly topical because it coincides with the 250 th anniversary of the world’s oldest constitutional protection for a free press and free speech, the Swedish Press Act of 1766, passed 50 years before Jefferson made his statement, quoted above.The overall aim of this book is to focus on challenges from the market to free speech and how free speech can be protected, promoted and developed in a time when the lines between journalism and advertising are blurred. Its scope covers both structural and individual levels. It analyses tensions between what can be called democracy-driven and market-driven freedom of expression ...

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