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Freedom of expression and the media

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About the document

Published date
documents in English
case study
20 pages
General public
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  1. Introduction
  2. Media under article 10
  3. Media coverage of political affairs
  4. Media and court proceedings
  5. Media and privacy
  6. Conclusion

There is a general consent that free speech is a good thing. Countries without it are undemocratic, not protecting individual rights. Media has encouraged the exchange of ideas; social networks have helped free speech. Judges who have to decide on free speech cases will try to balance this right with public interest. There can be direct clashes with individual rights such as privacy or reputation. There is a problem with blasphemy, obscene expression, pornography, racist speech: do we have to repress them all or just a narrow category?

This problem of balancing the right to free speech and all these individual rights arises in many situations, but especially in media.
Also, there is a question about the status of journalists: do we have to treat them as a media or as a person?

?The free speech theory.

Two theories can justify free speech:
Instrumental theories or deontological theories:
-Instrumental theories: Mills and the pursuit of truth, the marketplace of ideas, speech and democracy
-Deontological theories: expression and autonomy (Thomas Scanlon). Provides a basis for the protection if rights of individuals whose speech may not be valued under a more instrumental conception of expression (eg expression by young children might be difficult to accommodate with the instrumental theory)

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