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Freedom of the press versus ‘free will of the press’

/ 12:03 AM February 02, 2015

There is an essential distinction between freedom of the press and “free will of the press.” Freedom of the press is a matter of right—the freedom to report only what is true and factual or to render an opinion as long as it is founded on truth and facts and good faith without any malicious intent to malign and destroy the rights of others, such as the right to life or the right to one’s individual or

collective beliefs.

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Freedom, therefore, is not absolute. It is relative to or limited by the corresponding rights of others. Unjustly harassing or infringing on the rights of others is not a matter of freedom. In like manner, intentionally telling or reporting lies is not covered by freedom of the press.

On the other hand, free will is a personal power. An individual may choose or decide to do what he/she knows or believes to be right or to do what he/she knows or believes to be wrong. A news reporter or a media man, on his own free will, can choose to tell or report what is false or untrue, but he does not have the freedom to do so; if he does, he is liable for the deed. In fact, the publishing company should fire him as he is a liability.

In other words, just because you can exercise your free will to tell lies or report willful inaccuracies to malign other people does not mean you have the freedom to do it. You may call it free will of the press, but definitely not

freedom of the press.

—AMAY P. ONG VAÑO,

[email protected]

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