Editor’s Column: The five rights of the First Amendment

The media has gotten a bad rap lately (sometimes rightfully so), but while we rant and rail against whichever media outlet rubs our personal confirmation bias the wrong way, we need to keep some very important facts in mind.
1. We only have the right to rant and rail about the media (and a lot of other things) because the First Amendment of the Constitution provides us with freedom of speech.
2. Along with freedom of speech, we’ve been granted freedom of the press, freedom of religion, assembly and petition.
3. Whenever an individual or entity threatens to restrict, control, or revoke one of those rights, you can bet all the rest are about to be squelched, too.
So while it may be trendy to poke fun at journalists these days, we need to remember that if freedom of the press is restricted or challenged, our freedom to say what we want, when we want, where we want will likely be the next target.
On that note, the term “media” is used because it denotes something “in the middle.” In a representative democracy, the media informs the citizens and serves as a feedback loop between the government and voters, that’s why it’s sometimes called “The Fourth Estate.”
Take away the free press and the only folks letting us know what’s going on will be our elected officials, and that doesn’t sound very healthy, no matter how nice they may be.