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Fourth Estate
Fourth estate

Classical liberal theory views the press as a defender of public interests and a ‘watchdog’ on the workings of government. The term originated in the eighteenth century, gained ground during the nineteenth and even now generates debate.

It is derived from the notion of ‘estates of the realm’. The traditional three are the Lords Spiritual (clergy that sit in the House of Lords), the Lords Temporal (other peers) and the House of Commons. It's been attributed to several thinkers and writers including Edmund Burke, Richard Carlyle and the nineteenth century Times leader writer Henry Reeve. In October 1855 Reeve wrote in an article in the Edinburgh Review ‘journalism is now truly an estate of the realm; more powerful than any of the other estates’ ...

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