At this stage in our enlightened history, no defense would seem to be necessary for securing the liberty of the press against those who would seek to impair or destroy it. We have learned from the experience of others that without a free, courageous, and vigilant press, our system of government cannot function. Fraud, corruption, and dishonesty in and out of government would flourish undetected. Injustice and indifference to the rights of the accused in the courts would thrive unchecked. Poverty, slums, and other evil conditions would go unnoticed and uncorrected. For these reasons, it has been said that next to a fair trial by jury, freedom of the press is the most precious right which the people possess under our Bill of Rights.
We need not debate this point with those who would rank first in the order of priority, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, the right to privacy or any other freedom guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. It would be as fruitless to do so as to debate whether the chicken or the egg came first—or whether the man with the pad and pencil has a more important role in the press than the man with the clicking camera. By good fortune I need not furnish an opinion on this last question today. What alternative would I have in the face of the oft quoted maxim that one picture is worth a thousand words! I should like to trace the remarkable growth of photography in the press, its overwhelming influence upon the people, and its equally great responsibility to them.
Herbert Brownell Jr.,
Press Photographers and the Courtroom—Canon Thirty-five and Freedom of the Press,
35 Neb. L. Rev. 1
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