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date: 23 November 2017

Abstract and Keywords

Authoritarian regimes regularly rely on murdering journalists, jailing editors, and censoring the media to remain in power and to carry out their objectives. In 2001, thirty-seven journalists were reportedly killed in connection with their work, two-thirds apparently by governments or their supporters who did not like to take the heat of criticism. Ruling elites in market-economy democratic states primarily rely instead on owning or controlling the media or creating conditions in which the media naturally represent the world in a manner congenial to these elites' interests. This article is organized as follows. Section 1 describes debates concerning the normative premises for freedom of the press, premises that reject the censorship required by authoritarian regimes and occasionally imposed by democratic states. Section 2 describes the more pragmatic controversies centring on legal responses to the more indirect democratic threats posed by ruling elites in democratic market societies. Beyond the rejection of overt censorship, it discusses the debates over what legal treatment of the press best supports democracy while appropriately taking account of other societal needs.

Keywords: freedom of the press, censorship, press, democracy

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