Free Expression, History of

In early modern Europe and North America, many conflicts over freedom of expression occurred, occasioned by the development of the printing press, on the one hand, and democratic theory on the other. By the twentieth century, a standard history of these struggles had become canonical for political theorists as well as for the occupations that are most invested in freedom of expression—lawyers, publishers, librarians, academics, religious activists—and journalists.

Journalism as a practice and an institution has been fundamentally shaped by these struggles. Positioning itself as the gateway between governments and their publics, journalism has defined itself in part as the instrument people rely on to acquire the information they need to protect themselves from and to participate in government; journalism also has thought of itself as ...

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