Editorial: A timely reminder of the importance of a free press

(Credit: Grant Parpan)PHOTO BY GRANT PARPAN

As you leave the terrace at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., with its sprawling views of the U.S. Capitol, you pass the sign in the above photo.

You might encounter this statement — which sums up the importance of a free press and defines the overall theme of the museum — after hours of perusing the many artifacts in the collection that underscore the difficulty and risk inherent in protecting this freedom, both here and around the world.

From the bullet-riddled truck Time magazine reporters and photographers drove while covering the siege in Sarajevo to the large broadcast antennae that once stood atop the World Trade Center, reminders of this challenge are displayed throughout the building.

But a free press doesn’t always operate so dramatically. In fact, it serves the public best when it functions quietly. Virtually every newspaper in this country routinely publishes content that only emerges thanks to the freedoms afforded us by the First Amendment. We don’t usually shout it from the rooftops.

The past two weeks have  been different, though.

The sign at the Newseum says it best: A free press is a cornerstone of democracy and journalists must have a right to tell. That freedom should always include the right to be outrageous.

Nous sommes tous Charlie. Nous devons toujours être libre.