Does ‘freedom of the press’ mean the news media can say or write anything they want?

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Unless restricted by a valid prior restraint (which is rare), the news media are free to publish any information or opinion they desire. This freedom, however, does not immunize them from liability for what they publish. A newspaper that publishes false information about a person, for example, can be sued for libel. A television station similarly can be sued if it broadcasts a story that unlawfully invades a person’s privacy. Because such liability can be staggering, most journalists strive to exercise their freedom to publish in a responsible and ethical manner.