Who is ‘the press’?

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Courts have long struggled with this seemingly easy question. While no doubt exists that “mainstream” media, such as broadcast stations, newspapers and magazines, enjoy the freedom of “the press,” the line gets blurrier in cases involving underground newspapers, free-lance writers and pamphleteers. In general, however, courts have defined “the press” so as to include all publishers. The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, for example, has said that First Amendment protections extend to “‘every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion.’” von Bulow v. von Bulow, 811 F.2d 136, 144 (2d Cir.) (quoting Lovell v. Griffin, 303 U.S. 444, 452 (1938)), cert. denied, 481 U.S. 1015 (1987).