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The mass media are too important to American democracy, too capable of causing injury, and too easy a target for the perennial wish to find a scapegoat for the country's ills ever to be very far from the center of public attention and debate. That is certainly true today. And, though every generation probably thinks that it stands at a crossroads on the question what to do with the media, I would nevertheless venture to say that the issues of our time are more serious, and more complex, than ever before. One can safely predict, in any event, that we are entering another significant period of reflection and reassessment with respect to the concept of freedom of the press and to the performance of the press under that concept. The end of a century, however irrationally, seems naturally to induce a self-reflective frame of mind. At mid-century we had the famous Hutchins' Commission "Report on a Free and Responsible Press," with its powerful critique of American journalism; so now we might expect an equivalent commission to close the century and to ask whether all's well with our system of mass communications. All things considered, such a general review would probably be all to the good.


Communications Law | First Amendment | Law